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 2016, Canadian production of hydrocarbon gas liquids was 642.7 thousand barrels per day, which is composed by:

  • Propane: 223.6 Mb/d
  • Butane: 157.4 Mb/d, and
  • Ethane: 261.7 Mb/d

The total amount of hydrocarbon gas liquids exported in 2016 was 133.4 thousand barrels per day. Canada also imported 76.0 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
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Total production of hydrocarbon gas liquidis in 2016 was 642.7 thousand barrels per day. Alberta has the largest share of production at 87%, British Columbia follows with 9.8%, Saskatchewan with 2.7%, and Nova Scotia with 0.5%.

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 2014, the total use of energy by natural gas liquids was 131 PJ.

Sector Energy use* (PJ) % of the total
Residential 13.4 10.2%
Commercial 31.9 24.4%
Industrial 68.4 52.2%
Transportation 9.5 7.3%
Agriculture 7.7 5.9%
Total 131.0 100%
*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 2014. Alberta consumed the most natural gas liquids as energy at 39.3% 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 2014 was 131 PJ. Alberta has the largest share of consumption at 39.3%, followed by Ontario at 28.4%, Quebec at 12.8%, Saskatchewan at 6.6%, British Columbia and the Territories at 6.1%, the Atlantic provinces at 3.8%, and Manitoba at 3%.