In the last two lessons, we introduced fossil fuels as the dominant energy source for humanity today. We discussed the origins, benefits, and problems of fossil fuels, then discussed coal and oil individually. In this lesson, we'll look at natural gas. While it, too, is a fossil fuel, the benefits and challenges it presents merit examination on their own. Remember that natural gas is composed primarily of methane, the simplest hydrocarbon molecule, consisting of one atom of carbon and four atoms of hydrogen. So it has the chemical formula of CH_4. It's produced from fossil organic materials buried deep underground and subjected to high pressures and temperatures over long periods of time. The natural gas we find in nature consists of more than just methane. It contains larger hydrocarbon molecules as well such as ethane with two carbons and six hydrogen atoms, and propane with three carbons and eight hydrogen atoms. When we produce and process natural gas, we extract the heavier hydrocarbons to make other products. Ethane is used primarily to make ethylene, which is a feedstock for a range of products, most of which are converted into plastics and industrial chemicals. Propane is used as a fuel in bottles or tanks for everything from barbecues to heating buildings, to powering vehicles. So the natural gas delivered to our homes is largely methane, although some of the heavier molecules might still be included. When we burn methane, two oxygen molecules from the atmosphere combine with the carbon and hydrogen atoms in one molecule of methane to form two products; one molecule of carbon dioxide and two molecules of water. Because there is so much hydrogen and far less carbon proportionately in natural gas compared to oil and coal, the carbon dioxide emissions are much lower when we burn methane. As well, there are fewer impurities to create pollution such as particulate matter and noxious gases. The smoke you see coming out of a gas furnace or a power plant is actually mostly steam. Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel because it produces relatively few emissions and pollution. Let's return to the Sankey diagram once again for a look at natural gas. Like oil, natural gas has very diverse applications. More and more goes to electrical generation every year, particularly in replacing coal-fired generation as we'll see later. In many places, natural gas has also largely replaced coal and oil products in buildings for space heating, water heating, and cooking. In industry, natural gas provides energy for manufacturing and materials production. The heavier molecules in natural gas like ethane and propane can be extracted for specific applications. Little natural gas is used directly for transportation, although there have been efforts over the years to power cars and trucks with compressed natural gas. Liquefied natural gas is now being tested as a maritime fuel for large car ferries and shipping. Because natural gas serves so many markets and human needs, global demand has grown steadily for decades. The OECD is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group of the highest income nations represented in this chart in light blue. Steady growth in natural gas demand in the OECD reflects both economic growth and the conversion of coal-fired electrical generation to natural gas. Natural gas growth in other jurisdictions has occurred as their economies have grown and modernized. As we did for coal and oil and we'll do for the other energy sources, let's look at the positive and negative attributes, the benefits and costs of using natural gas. The positives are similar to those for coal and oil. Natural gas is one of the three fossil fuels that dominate world energy production today. We know how to find it and how to produce it, and we're doing so in many nations around the world. Pipelines and tankers are in place to transport it to hundreds of petrochemical plants, thousands of electrical generating facilities, and millions of households where it is needed. In North America and Europe, there are well-established gas storage networks as well, where we can pump gas into underground reservoirs at times of abundant supply and withdraw it quickly when demand is high, particularly in the winter. These reservoirs are our largest energy storage facilities of any type. We can list the same three negative attributes for natural gas as we did for coal and oil: pollution, limited resources, and greenhouse gas emissions. Plus concerns over hydraulic fracturing or fracking, which has become important for gas production in some countries. Burning natural gas releases vanishingly small amounts of particulate matter or smoke and soot and sulfur dioxide compared to any other fuel. You can hardly see natural gas on the top two bars of the graph. Natural gas does release nitrogen oxides, although far less than oil and coal and less than biofuels for the equivalent amount of energy produced. We'll talk about carbon dioxide in a minute. Advanced oil field technologies, horizontal drilling, and hydraulic fracturing or fracking allow drillers to produce immense volumes of natural gas from sedimentary basins around the world. This map shows sedimentary basins that the US Energy Information Administration or EIA cataloged as having potential for gas production using horizontal drilling and fracking. To date, only a few of these basins have been explored systematically, mostly in North and South America. The volumes of gas produced even from just these basins are so large that they have completely changed world gas markets, increasing supply and driving down prices. While natural gas is a finite, non-renewable resource, there are sufficient resources to support well over 100 years of production at today's rates. Hydraulic fracturing and its environmental implications are a huge topic, and we could easily spend the entire time we have for this course on fracking alone. But that's not what this course is about. So let me summarize. As we just saw, fracking has opened up huge new gas resources in North America and potentially worldwide. It's a common oil field practice and has been used in many areas for more than 60 years. In the past 20 years, frack jobs have become much bigger and have been carried out in oil and gas wells drilled thousands of meters deep and then horizontally for up to a few kilometers in length away from the surface location. Some studies suggest that hydraulic fracturing endangers the environment, particularly by threatening surface water resources we rely upon for domestic use and agriculture. Others maintain it as a safe and highly regulated activity. Research around hydraulic fracturing and the environment continues. But in Canada, there have been no incidences recorded of surface water or shallow groundwater contamination by frack operations. Natural gas does emit greenhouse gases, creating about half the amount of carbon dioxide as coal does to generate the same amount of energy. The other greenhouse gas concerned around natural gas is the unintended release or leakage of methane into the atmosphere. Methane itself is a powerful greenhouse gas, so releasing a bit of it can be as bad as a much larger amount of carbon dioxide. Calculations vary as to how much worse it is. Balancing the positive and negative attributes of natural gas, a key strategy around the globe for short-term emissions and pollution reduction is to replace other fossil fuels like peat or coal and oil with natural gas. In fact, the IEA has calculated how much carbon dioxide has not been emitted over the past decade because electricity generators have switched from coal to natural gas. The United States has led the way, cutting an enormous 200-plus megatons of CO_2 in 2018, fueled by abundant, cheap, natural gas made available by hydraulic fracturing. China and other countries have joined in as more gas has been made available worldwide, transported both by large pipelines and by tankers in liquefied form as liquefied natural gas or LNG. Increased availability of LNG gives countries that still burn a lot of coal for power the opportunity to reduce emissions in the short to medium term by importing and burning natural gas instead. Canada is now participating in LNG supply with the construction of its first LNG export project called LNG Canada. Construction is underway at Kitimat on the Pacific Coast of Northern British Columbia. 2021 was the year for LNG Canada to go vertical, as many of the important modules and storage tanks were put into place. Construction is also underway on the coastal gasoline pipeline, bringing natural gas from British Columbia's vast reserves in the Northeastern part of the province. LNG Canada is expected to ship LNG to hungry Asian markets beginning in 2024 and to expand its capacity in the following years. Let's go on a short aerial tour of the LNG Canada project. Welcome to British Columbia, the place where LNG Canada is proposing to build and operate an LNG export facility. We considered more than 500 sites before selecting our site in Kitimat, which is at the mouth of the Douglas Channel in the traditional territory of the Haisla Nation. Let's go on a journey and see what our site will look like at full build-out. If you look on the right of the screen as we head up the Douglas Channel towards the LNG Canada marine terminal, you see the Haisla Nation's Kitimat Village. The Haisla and other aboriginal groups in the area hold important traditional knowledge, which we incorporated into our project planning and design. Straight ahead is the marine terminal which will accommodate two LNG carriers. At full build-out, there'll be one carrier coming into the terminal and one leaving almost every day. The carriers will be assisted into port by tugboats. As we come onto the site, you see the Kitimat River estuary. This area has many valuable ecological features, including creeks and waterways, and is rich in both marine and plant life. Designing our facility footprint to protect the natural environment was of paramount importance and a responsibility that we took very seriously. As we fly over the site, you see four LNG processing units, also referred to as LNG trains. Our plan is to build our facility in two phases, each phase consisting of two trains. Construction of the two phases will take 4-5 years before the first LNG cargo is ready to be shipped overseas. Now that you have an idea what the entire site looks like, let's go into more detail on specific components. The rail yard near the bottom of the screen already exists and will be used to remove light condensate, which is a natural byproduct of turning natural gas into liquid. At the entrance to the site, we'll have new administration buildings, employee parking, a dedicated LNG Canada fire hall, and a BC Hydro substation. LNG Canada will draw freshwater for facility process needs from the Kitimat River. Any return water will be sent to a water treatment facility before being released back into the Douglas Channel. On the left of the Kitimat River is where the coastal gasoline pipeline brings natural gas into the site for processing. The aerial view shows the relationship between our site and the District of Kitimat. The strong support the Kitimat community and the Haisla Nation have demonstrated for our project is very important to us and puts our project at the forefront of the LNG industry in British Columbia. As we continue on our journey, the daylight is beginning to fade. So let's finish our tour before darkness falls. Flare stacks can be seen at the bottom of the screen. Every LNG facility has them. They serve as safety devices designed to burn gases safely and efficiently under all conditions. When the facility is operating normally, residents can expect to see a small clean burning flame, essentially a pilot light at the top of the stacks. Visually prominent on the site are two large storage tanks where the LNG, now in liquid form, is piped and remains until loaded via insulated loading lines onto waiting LNG carriers at the wharf. The heart of the site is the LNG processing units, a series of pressure vessels, heat exchangers, compressors, and pumps. This is where the gas is processed, then shelled to around minus 162 degrees Celsius, at which temperature it turns into liquid. When built, the LNG Canada project will be one of the largest energy infrastructure projects ever built in Canada. Safety of the community, the environment and our employees and contractors has been and will continue to be foremost in every decision we make. We look forward to contributing to the local, provincial, and national economies, and being a vital and responsible member of the Kitimat community. Thank you for joining us on our tour of our proposed facility. Now that we've reviewed fossil fuels, our next lesson we'll examine energy generated by nuclear fission.