The Honourable Jim Prentice, P.C., M.P.
Minister of the Environment
Evidence April 15, 2010
Natural gas has often been cited by energy policy experts as an example of a transitional fuel due to its relatively low carbon intensity. Natural gas fired electricity generation is seen as a way to displace some of the coal fired thermal plants that currently produce electricity in the US and in Canada.
The Honourable Jim Prentice, Canada’s Minister of the Environment, told the committee that natural gas is a way to provide cleaner energy production while waiting for CCS technology to be developed and commercialized. The Minister added that in displacing coal, natural gas would also reduce mercury emissions and oxides of nitrogen and sulphur which cause smog and acid rain.
There is also potential for natural gas to serve as a transportation fuel particularly for the heavy trucking industry.
The North American market for natural gas has shifted considerably in recent years due in part to new drilling technology for non-conventional natural gas such as shale gas. Because of the size of shale gas reserves, it has the potential to be a significant game changer.
Canada is the third largest producer of natural gas in the world after the United States and Russia. Canada is a large supplier of natural gas to the United States with which it shares a common market.
 Nearly all of the natural gas production in Canada is in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin where Alberta takes up the lion’s share followed by British Columbia and Saskatchewan. Atlantic Canada has offshore natural gas production, predominantly in Nova Scotia.