Underneath Canada is a very large reserve of natural gas, estimated at 449 trillion cubic feet, that could provide the energy needs of the country for 145 years, according to a report by the National Energy Board. The bulk of the reserves are in the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia.

Ahead of developing the natural gas field, the BG Group and Petronas of Malaysia are having preliminary discussion on building a shared natural gas pipeline in British Columbia where the BC portion alone in Montney is estimated at 271 trillion cubic feet of marketable natural gas, while in Alberta it is placed at 178 trillion cubic feet.


It is several times over Canada's proven gas reserves which have already been drilled, pegged by the U.S. Energy Administration at 61 trillion cubic feet.

Including other gas sites in BC, the study reckons the Canadian province has underneath it 2,933 trillion cubic feet of natural gas of which there are already about a dozen projects in the drawing board to export the natural gas from terminal in northwestern BC as liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asia, where demand is high.

With the large reservoir, the Montney natural gas basin would place Canada behind Qatar - the current largest exporter of natural gas - but ahead of the Urengoy basin in Russia.

The large amount is because it is the first time that recoverable unconventional gas and oil potential was evaluated in the Montney Basic. The unconventional resources include tight gas, coal-bed methane gas and shale gas, usually economically extracted through horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

Mike Johnson, a National Energy Board analyst, told the Vancouver Sun, "We were surprised. We thought there might be a lot of gas because it' a big formation. But then when we ran the numbers, it was, 'Wow,' it was bigger than I thought it would be."

With the ongoing preliminary talks between BG and Petronas, it would hope to help coordinate their respective pipeline projects since BG had opted for Ridley Island near Prince Rupert to located its proposed facility, while Petronas's Pacific NorthWest selected Lelu Island as site of its export terminal.

BG Chief Executive Chris Finlayson is favours a shared gas pipeline to cut costs, reduce impact on the environment and tap economies of scale.