Natural Gas and Expansion Project FAQ’s

What is Natural Gas?

  • Natural Gas is a colourless odourless naturally occurring gas consisting primarily of Methane (CH4) and is lighter than air. It was formed over millions of years when layers of decomposing plant and animal matter were exposed to intense heat and pressure under the surface of the Earth.

Why does it smell if it’s odourless?

  • The distinctive “rotten egg” smell is actually an odorant called mercaptan that is added to the gas added as a safety precaution to make it easier to detect in case of a leak.

Is Natural Gas a renewable resource?

  • Traditionally sourced Natural Gas is a fossil fuel and, in that context, it is not renewable. However, Methane, the main component of Natural Gas is a renewable resource. Bio-methane or bio-gas for short results from the anaerobic decay of organic matter (a natural process in which bacteria existing in an oxygen-free environment decompose organic matter) and is produced in swamps, marshes, and landfills, as well as by the treatment of waste materials such as sewage sludge, agricultural waste and manure by way of anaerobic digesters.  Many European countries inject this bio-methane or “renewable natural gas” after it is processed to remove impurities into the gas distribution systems offsetting their use of the traditional fossil fuel.

When was Natural Gas discovered?

  • Its hard to say when it was first discovered, however it is believed the power of Natural gas was first harnessed around 500 BC in Ancient China when crude bamboo pipelines were built to transport it from where its was seeping from the ground to where it was burned to boil sea water to extract salt.

Is Natural Gas safe?

  • Natural gas is one of the safest sources of energy and has an has an excellent safety record throughout the world. Gas Distribution Utilities continuously work with Government personnel and Industry participants such as manufacturers, suppliers and installers to develop industry safety standards and codes both for gas distribution and for appliance use. 
  • Natural gas is delivered safely through a network of buried steel and plastic pipelines and is delivered into homes and businesses at very low pressures. These networks include safety features such as strategically located shut-off valves as well as excess flow valves that automatically shut if they detect too much flow.
  • To prevent the buried pipelines from being damaged, gas distribution utilities all have extensive “Damage Prevention Awareness” programs and offer a free pipeline locating service for anyone who may be digging near a gas pipeline.
  • Natural Gas Utilities also have pro-active programs for inspection and maintenance of their infrastructure including “Leak Survey” programs whereby the entire network is physically surveyed with leak detection equipment.
  • Natural gas is also lighter than air and when unintentionally released outdoors it can safely dissipate into the atmosphere since it requires a source of ignition in order to ignite i.e. it cannot spontaneously combust.
  • In Ontario, all new pipelines must be approved by pipeline inspectors who are certified by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA).
  • In Ontario, all natural gas appliance installation and service work must be completed by trained individuals who are certified by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA)
  • In addition, most gas distribution utilities offer first responder training, mostly targeting Fire Departments, to ensure they are well equipped to deal with fires where Natural Gas is present.

Is Natural Gas a clean fuel?

  • The main products released when Natural Gas is burned are carbon dioxide and water vapor.  Because of its low carbon content, Natural Gas produces 20% less greenhouse gas emissions than Propane and 25% less than Fuel Oil.

What can I use Natural Gas for in my home and what appliances will run on Natural Gas?

  • Typical residential uses for Natural Gas are heating, hot water, cooking, clothes drying, outdoor cooking (BBQ), and pool heating. The appliances that enable this are gas furnaces, gas fireplaces, free-standing gas stoves, traditional and “on-demand or Instantaneous” gas hot water heaters, gas cook stoves or ranges, gas clothes dryers, gas BBQ’s and gas pool heaters.

What are some of the other uses for Natural Gas?

  • Natural Gas is used extensively in the restaurant sector for cooking, heating and producing the hot water used for washing dishes. In agriculture, Natural gas is used for drying crops, heating greenhouses, and producing the hot water that’s used extensively in the dairy industry.  Natural Gas is also used to produce both heat and electricity in Cogeneration power plants and in industry where heat is needed for processes.   In the USA and around the world, Natural gas is also used to power vehicles, like cars, light duty pick-ups, heavy duty trucks and transport trucks, city busses, and even garbage trucks.  It is also being explored as a cleaner alternative to diesel in heavy duty off-road vehicles, cargo ships, as well as for the locomotives used in the rail industry.

Is Natural Gas a greenhouse gas?

  • The main component of Natural Gas, methane, is indeed a potent greenhouse gas. This is why there are regulations in place to capture methane escaping from facilities such as landfills and waste water treatment facilities.  Once captured, this bio-methane or bio-gas can be burned to produce heat, electricity, or even power vehicles such as garbage tucks. In many European countries, the bio-methane from landfill sites and waste water treatment plants is processed to remove impurities and injected into Natural Gas distribution systems. Natural Gas distribution utilities like Enbridge are also required to have measures in place to ensure the gas is well contained within their distribution system.

How popular is Natural Gas in Ontario?

  • Because of its safety record, versatility, low cost, and availability due to large domestic reserves and extensive distribution infrastructure, Natural Gas is the energy of choice for almost all sectors of the Ontario economy. In Ontario, approximately 3.5 million homes and businesses are connected to the Natural Gas Distribution Network.  In fact, more than ¾ of Ontario homes are heated with Natural Gas and Natural Gas in one way or another meets over one third of all of Ontario’s energy needs.

Where does the Natural Gas used in Ontario come from?

  • The largest source of Natural Gas comes from Western Canadian suppliers via TransCanada Pipelines, although additional Natural Gas is purchased from U.S. sources and Ontario producers.

How much does Natural Gas cost?

  • The price of Natural Gas varies, however at current prices, on average it would cost a typical Cornwall Island household that switched to Natural Gas for heating and hot water approximately 50% less than Fuel Oil, 36% less than Electricity, and 30% less than Propane on an annual basis.

What is “Fracking”?

  • Hydraulic fracturing aka “fracking” is a technique that has been used since the 1950’s to increase the production of oil, natural gas, and water wells. The technique involves injecting a liquid consisting mostly of water (typically 90% water, 9.5% sand, and .5% chemical additives) at high pressure into the well to fracture the surrounding rock in order to open up veins and increase the well’s output.

How often is “Fracking” used?

  • It is estimated that it has been used in excess of 2.5 million times worldwide since it was first introduced. In more recent times it has been used extensively to access “unconventional” oil and natural gas from deep rock formations between 2 and 6 kilometers below the earth’s surface that would otherwise not be economically viable.

What are the Pro’s and Con’s of “Fracking”?

  • Although “fracking” has been used extensively for approximately 70 years now, the lack of proper regulation in certain jurisdictions has resulted in some incidents of groundwater contamination and as a result the practice has become quite controversial.
  • Proponents believe that using hydraulic fracturing to increase well production and/or access previously inaccessible “unconventional” resources offsets foreign imports of oil & natural gas and keeps their costs low.
  • Opponents believe that the significant water consumption associated with hydraulic fracturing (potentially millions of gallons per well), and the possibility of water contamination outweigh these benefits.

Does Enbridge use “Fracking”?

  • Enbridge only transports & distributes oil and natural gas and does not produce them, therefore it does not use hydraulic fracturing.

What would the proposed Natural Gas expansion project on Cornwall Island involve?

  • The project, if it proceeds, would involve tapping into the existing 12” steel pipeline that crosses Cornwall Island and feeds upstate New York, installing a pressure reducing station, and installing approximately 21 km of new natural gas line along Island Road as well as on all existing side roads. Island Road would be piped with approximately 2kms of 4” plastic pipe and 6kms of 2” plastic pipe, while all the side roads would require approximately 13kms of 1 ¼” plastic pipe.

How much pressure is in the plastic pipe?

  • The gas pressure in the plastic pipe is 60 pounds per square inch (PSI)

How would the gas get to my house from the street?

  • The plastic gas pipe that would feed your house is called a “service” and it would be connected to the plastic pipe in the street. In most cases it would be ½” in diameter.  Once at your house, it would come up out of the ground as a rigid pipe and connect to a pressure regulator that would reduce the gas pressure from 60 PSI down to ¼ PSI.  From the regulator the gas would go into a gas meter before connecting to the piping in your home.

What is the total cost of the project?

  • The project would cost approximately $8.4 million

How long would the construction take?

  • The construction would take approximately 21 weeks from start to finish

Would I need to hook up during the construction of the project or could I hook up at a later date?

  • No, you would not need to hook up during the construction, you could hook up at a later date.

I have heard there is going to be a door-to-door survey on Cornwall Island.  What is that for?

  • The survey will be conducted to assess the level of support for the project and determine whether it should proceed, as well as gather load information for Enbridge i.e. what gas appliances you would install if you support the project.

Will there be an environmental assessment?

  • Yes, if the project does proceed, Enbridge personnel will work with the MCA to conduct a harmonized environmental assessment.

If the project does proceed, when would it be completed and operational?

  • At this point, it appears that the Spring / Summer of 2020 would be the earliest possible construction window.