Unconventional energy industry in Calgary
Calgary and Alberta’s unconventional energy industry focuses on methods of energy production and distribution outside of conventional oil, gas and natural gas.
Shale gas is an unconventional source of energy – it is the natural gas contained within silt and sandbeds interbedded in shale rocks. It is considered an unconventional energy because the technology and recovery techniques required to access the shale gas are advanced. As with renewable energy sources, the province is looking to unconventional sources such as shale gas to diversify the economic output of the energy industry. Shale gas production in Canada, as in North America, has expanded dramatically over recent years, especially in Western Canada with the Montney and Horn River basins. Calgary supply and service firms are experts in technologies such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing used for shale gas production.
Chemical manufacturing and petrochemicals
The chemical manufacturing industry in Calgary produces petrochemicals, fertilizer, plastics, rubber products, polystyrene foam products, paints and a variety of other chemical products.
Petrochemical production is one of the largest manufacturing industries in Alberta, and the province is Canada’s leading producer of petrochemicals. The province is home to four petrochemical plants with a combined annual production capacity of 8.6 billion pounds of ethylene. Two of Alberta’s petrochemical plants located in Joffre and Fort Saskatchewan are among the world’s largest.
The current viability of the province’s petrochemical industry is based on access to a long-term, secure and economic supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) feedstock, particularly ethane, and the ability to develop suitable competitively price products for international markets. As conventional gas production declines, less ethane will be available for use by the petrochemical sector. The Incremental Ethane Extraction Policy (IEEP) is a 10-year initiative to encourage increased production of ethane extraction from natural gas and gases produced as by-products of bitumen upgrading. Off-gases are a mixture of hydrogen and light gases; the majority of the off-gases produced from oil sands upgraders presently being used as fuel for oil sands operations. However, it is estimated that with new refining, capacity up to 150,000 barrels of ethane could be produced from bitumen upgrading and used for petrochemical feedstock.
Coal is the world’s most abundant fossil fuel. Canada is ranked tenth in the world in total coal reserves. Alberta currently has an estimated 37 billion tons of coal remaining to be mined. Alberta’s coal contains more than twice the energy of the province’s other non-renewable energy resources, including conventional oil, natural gas, bitumen and synthetic crude. The Coal Association of Canada is headquartered in Calgary as are numerous head offices.