Hydrocarbon gas liquids facts

What are hydrocarbon gas liquids?

Hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGLs) include natural gas liquids (NGLs) (propane, butane, and ethane) and olefins produced by natural gas processing plants and upstream processing or by crude oil refineries.

These gases can be easily liquefied, and therefore are commonly referred to as “liquids”.

Supply and demand

In 2017, Canadian production of hydrocarbon gas liquids was 672.4 thousand barrels per day, which is composed by:

  • Propane: 252.9 Mb/d
  • Butane: 176.2 Mb/d, and
  • Ethane: 243.3 Mb/d

The total amount of hydrocarbon gas liquids exported in 2017 was 167.9 thousand barrels per day. Canada also imported 73.3 thousand barrels per day.

Supply and demand excludes condensates and pentanes plus, which are included as part of crude oil, and includes refinery-produced LPGs.

Primary energy production by source
Text version

Total production of hydrocarbon gas liquidis in 2017 was 672.4 thousand barrels per day. Alberta has the largest share of production at 86%, British Columbia follows with 10.1%, Saskatchewan with 3.4%, and Nova Scotia with 0.4%.

Natural gas liquids energy use

Natural gas liquids (NGLs) have a wide variety of industrial and commercial uses. For example, ethane, propane and butane are used as feedstock for the creation of value added petrochemicals (e.g. polypropylene which is used in a wide variety of consumer products, such as plastics). NGLs can also be used for residential and commercial heating, cooking fuel, blending with vehicle fuel, diluent for heavy oil and bitumen, or for the production of fertilizers.

In 2015, the total use of energy by natural gas liquids was 127.7 PJ.

Sector Energy use* (PJ) % of the total
Residential 14.0 11.0%
Commercial 34.1 26.7%
Industrial 60.0 47.0%
Transportation 10.6 8.3%
Agriculture 8.9 7.0%
Total 127.7 100%
*secondary energy use

Natural gas liquids energy use by province

Each province depends on and utilizes natural gas liquids in different ways. The following depicts the natural gas liquids energy use by province in 2015. Alberta consumed the most natural gas liquids as energy at 38.6% followed by Ontario with 28.4%.

Learn more about liquefied natural gas.

Primary energy production by source
Text version

Total consumption of hydrocarbon gas liquids in 2015 was 127.7 PJ. Alberta has the largest share of consumption at 39%, followed by Ontario at 28%, Quebec at 13%, Saskatchewan at 7%, British Columbia and the Territories at 6%, the Atlantic Provinces at 4%, and Manitoba at 3%.