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 2018, Canadian production of hydrocarbon gas liquids was 684.8 thousand barrels per day, which is composed by:

  • Propane: 270.5 Mb/d
  • Butane: 174.1 Mb/d, and
  • Ethane: 240.2 Mb/d

The total amount of hydrocarbon gas liquids exported in 2018 was 193.5 thousand barrels per day. Canada also imported 69.8 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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Gas processing plant production of hydrocarbon gas liquids in 2018 was 605 thousand barrels per day. Alberta has the largest share of production at 86%, British Columbia follows with 12%, Saskatchewan with 2%, and Nova Scotia with 0.3%.

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 2016, the total use of energy by natural gas liquids was 134.2 PJ.

Sector Energy use* (PJ) % of the total
Residential 17.1 12.7%
Commercial 38.3 28.5%
Industrial 56.5 42.1%
Transportation 12.1 9.0%
Agriculture 10.3 7.7%
Total 134.2 100%
*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 2016. Ontario consumed the most natural gas liquids as energy at 36.4% followed by Alberta with 32.0%.

Learn more about liquefied natural gas.

Primary energy production by source
Text version

Total consumption of hydrocarbon gas liquids in 2016 was 134.2 PJ. Ontario has the largest share of consumption at 36%, followed by Alberta at 32%, Quebec at 13%, Saskatchewan at 5%, British Columbia and the Territories at 7%, the Atlantic Provinces at 5%, and Manitoba at 2%.