Natural Gas Q&A
What is Natural Gas?
Natural gas forms when plant and animal matter are trapped beneath solid rock under tons of pressure for millions of years. Made up mostly of methane, natural gas is both odourless and tasteless in its original form. To see the chemical composition of natural gas, click here.
Where does our natural gas come from?
Union Gas buys natural gas from a variety of suppliers and has access to a several alternate pipelines to transport natural gas into our system. Western Canadian suppliers comprise the largest source of natural gas which is then transported to our pipeline system through TransCanada Pipelines Limited. Additional natural gas is purchased from U.S. sources and Ontario producers. Through diversity of suppliers and a prudent mix of short and long term gas supply contracts, we secure a reliable supply at a fair price.
How safe is natural gas?
Statistics clearly show natural gas to be the safest energy form. Compared to other energy sources, it has an enviable safety record because of several factors. Natural gas is non-toxic. The odourant that we add makes it easy to detect small leaks. Since natural gas is lighter than air, it dissipates quickly in a well-ventilated area. These factors, combined with the rigorous controls and safety standards that regulate the industry, make natural gas a safe energy choice.
Why does natural gas have an odour?
Mercaptan, a harmless, non-toxic substance that has a strong "rotten egg" smell is added as a safety precaution to natural gas (and propane) to make it easier to detect in case of a leak --Natural gas is itself colourless and odourless. If you should detect this odour in your home, immediately open windows, leave the house and call us from a neighbour's telephone. We'll send a Service Representative to investigate. We provide 24-hour emergency response to anyone who calls in and tells us they smell gas. We work very hard at maintaining exacting safety standards and we take pride in our safety record.
What should I do if I smell gas?
We advise all customers to call 1-877-969-0999. Our staff are trained to analyze your problem quickly. They'll walk you through a series of questions so they can determine the severity of the problem.
They can then advise you on how you should respond. Here are some of the questions you could be asked. How long have you smelled a gas odour? Do you hear a hissing noise? Is there construction going on?
Depending on your answers, you may be asked to shut-off the supply of gas to the appliance (we'll talk you through the procedure) or you may be asked to vacate the premises. Again, if you smell gas, open the windows, leave the home and call from a neighbour's telephone. A Union Gas representative will advise you on the severity of the problem and how you should respond.
These calls are given the highest priority. When we receive one of these calls, we dispatch a Service Representative immediately.
How does Union Gas transport natural gas?
As natural gas enters our pipeline network, compressors, at the Trafalgar, Parkway, Bright, Lobo and Dawn stations, move it throughout a network of underground pipelines in southwestern Ontario. This modern system delivers a safe, constant, year-round supply of natural gas, in all kinds of weather, to you and your neighbours.
Can Union Gas store natural gas?
Union Gas has an extensive underground storage system. We store enough natural gas in depleted, underground wells to heat 1.2 million homes for a year. Centered in Dawn Township, near Dresden, Ontario, and Enniskillen Township near Oil Springs, these facilities take advantage of porous rock formations that were once underground reefs. Now entombed by layers of solid rock, they are ideal natural storage depots. We inject natural gas into these ancient reservoirs during the summer months when demand is low and withdraw it during colder periods when demand is high. Additionally, Union Gas is able to liquify natural gas and store it for high demand periods. At Hagar, Ontario, we store enough liquefied natural gas to heat 3,700 homes for a year.
How is the price for natural gas established?
Natural gas like other commodities, is publicly traded and the market price varies in response to factors such as weather or availability of supply. Union Gas adjusts the rates we charge our customers for natural gas every three months to reflect ongoing changes in the market price of natural gas and these costs are passed through to customers without any mark-up. All rate changes require Ontario Energy Board approval.
How can I be sure of an uninterrupted supply?
At Union Gas we impose and follow stringent operating procedures and standards to ensure you have a reliable supply of natural gas. We purchase natural gas from a variety of suppliers and have access to a number of alternate pipelines to bring natural gas into our system. This gives us operational flexibility and lowers the risk of service disruption. In addition we have backup facilities to ensure continuous operation of important lines and equipment and we conduct periodic reviews of our emergency response system.
Can we run out of natural gas?
There is an abundant supply of natural gas -- so much so that natural gas will continue to be the energy source of choice for Canadians for many decades to come. This conclusion is strongly supported by statistics put out by both the National Energy Board and Natural Resources Canada’s Geological Survey of Canada.