The advantages of natural gas compared to other fossil energies are well known. Its combustion does not emit any sulphur dioxide and emits three times less nitrogen oxide than coal or oil. During consumption, natural gas emits about 42% less greenhouse gas than coal, 31% less than oil and 255 less than diesel. When used as a primary source for energy production, the benefits of natural gas are even more impressive: 54% less greenhouse gas than coal, 50 % less than oil and 35% less than diesel.
This is why many environmental organizations think that natural gas, at the condition that other more polluting sources be moved over, can play an important part in the world’s fight for greenhouse gas reduction.
It is obvious that by replacing coal or various oil products, natural gas would reduce the total bill of greenhouse emissions throughout the continent. The issue due to climate changes extends far beyond the borders of Québec only so, to analyse the impact of Utica Shale gas production on greenhouse gas emissions only on the basis of Québec’s situation seems very simplistic to say the least.
To the extent that we accept the idea that the issue concerning greenhouse gas emissions is global and should not be evaluated only from Québec’s point of view, it is reasonable to believe that the global impacts related to Utica Shale gas production on greenhouse gas emissions will be positive. Gas produced here for our own needs will eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions related to natural gas transportation which actually travels a distance of about 3,700 km between Alberta and Québec in order to supply the market.
Moreover, Québec has the biggest heavy oil industrial consumption. It’s a market where natural gas produced here could make gains and have an immediate impact on greenhouse gas emissions. On the other hand, Transport Robert and Gas Métro’s project to supply trucks with liquefied natural gas for merchandise transportation in the corridor formed by the Ontario Highway 401 and Highway 20 in Québec, between Québec and Metropolitan Toronto represents another concrete example of the important part natural gas can immediately have in decreasing greenhouse gas in Québec.
Finally, if Utica Shale production was a surplus to local consumption needs, it’s a safe bet to say that the volumes exported from Quebec to the United States would be used to replace more polluting energy sources, including coal which is still used to generate electricity in the Northeastern American States.