Natural gas production higher in 2021
But not breaking any records
By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 7 December 2021 1 min read
Last Tuesday’s Owl reported that oil production in Alberta reached its highest level on record in October. This is not, however, the case when it comes to marketable* natural gas production.
At 86.2 billion cubic metres, natural gas production in the province over the first 10 months of 2021 was 3.2% higher than over the same period last year, but 1.0% below the year-to-date figure for 2019.
If we go back to 2007, Alberta’s natural gas output from January to October was 113.3 billion cubic metres or 23.9% higher than over the same period this year.
Why has oil production in Alberta increased since the 2000s while natural gas production has tapered?
In a nutshell, the rapid expansion of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling known as the shale revolution that began around 2006 unleashed an enormous amount of cheap natural gas into the North American market.
The resulting combination of lower prices and alternative suppliers eroded interest in expanding production in Alberta and our natural gas exports to the U.S. went from $28.1 billion in 2008 to $5.9 billion in 2019.
The shale revolution also boosted U.S. oil production, but this did not reduce the demand for Alberta’s oil on the part of U.S. refineries.
Despite the shale revolution, natural gas remains a key part of the Alberta economy with the potential for renewed growth through exports to countries other than the U.S. and as feedstock for other industries.
*Marketable gas is natural gas that remains after raw gas is processed (to remove non-hydrocarbons and heavier natural gas liquids) and meets specifications for use as a fuel.
Answer to the previous trivia question: According to history.com, the design, planning and construction of the Empire State Building took just 20 months from start to finish.
Today’s trivia question: How many cubic metres of natural gas were produced globally in 2020?