Author: Jimmy Thomson, Canadian Geographic
Publish Date: Oct 9, 2013 Last Update: Sep 20, 2018
Water and chemicals are pumped underground with tremendous pressure to crack the shale, releasing the gas.
Natural gas is primarily made up of methane (CH4) but can also contain other hydrocarbons such as ethane, propane, butane and pentanes. Natural gas is most often extracted from gas fields, buried pockets of gas that are sometimes associated with oil fields.
To extract the gas, holes are drilled deep into the ground, allowing the gas to flow to the surface through the well. It is then processed at large facilities, which remove water and other impurities, and transported via pipeline.
Shale gas is methane that has been trapped in fine-grained sediment (shale) and can be freed using hydraulic fracturing. In this process, water and chemicals are pumped underground with tremendous pressure to crack the shale, releasing the gas. When the gas has been extracted, some of the contaminated water is removed for storage, and some remains in the ground.
In 2016, natural gas production in B.C. averaged 4.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d). In 2016, field production of Natural Gas Liquids (NGL) was 641 Mb/d and Alberta’s NGL production represents about 89% of total Canadian production.
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