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Glossary


Acid gas:  hydrogen sulfide (H2S) or carbon dioxide (CO2) or a combination of H2S and CO2, which are referred to as acid gases because they form acids or acidic solutions in the presence of water

Acid gas injection:  the injection of acid gas into a suitable underground geological formation

Alberta Energy Utilities Board (AEUB):  The AEUB, together with Alberta Environment, governs the permitting, emissions and operations of gas processing plants in the Province of Alberta pursuant to the provisions of the Oil and Gas Conservation Act (Alberta) and the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (Alberta) and are concerned with their impact on the physical environment. Generally, gas processing plants require a permit from the AEUB to process a specified volume of natural gas and a demonstration at the time of application that the impact on the environment will be minimal. Approvals from Alberta Environment for emissions to air and water may also be required depending on the size of the gas plant and if the gas processing plant processes sweet or sour gas. When the natural gas supplied to a gas plant increases beyond the permitted processing capacity, the gas plant owners may: (i) apply for an increased permit if there is spare processing capacity in the gas plant; (ii) request gas plant expansion and an increased processing permit; or (iii) allow the surplus natural gas to bypass the gas plant.

The legislation also allows the AEUB and Alberta Environment to inspect and investigate and, where a practice employed or a facility used is hazardous to human health or the environment, to make remedial orders.


Butane:  a natural gas liquid (NGL) with the molecular formula C4H10), used as a household fuel, refrigerant and aerosol propellant and in the manufacture of synthetic rubber

CO2:  carbon dioxide

CO2 Sequestration:   the removal of CO2 and disposing of it either permanently or for geologically significant periods

Cogeneration:  the simultaneous generation of electricity and another form of useful thermal energy (such as heat or steam) from a single energy source (e.g. natural gas);

Condensate:  a mixture of hydrocarbons consisting primarily of pentanes and heavier liquids extracted from natural gas. While it can be used to make gasoline, jet fuel and other products, it is primarily used in Alberta as diluent 

Deep cut:  the processes which recover NGLs from natural gas in excess of amounts required for sales gas to meet pipeline specifications

Dehydration:  the process by which water vapour is removed from raw gas

Degrandfather:  to upgrade a gas processing facility to increase the sulphur recovery efficiency to the levels established in the AEUB's IL 88-13.

In 1988, the Alberta government introduced new sulphur recovery guidelines for raw sour gas plants, defined in the AEUB's IL 88-13.  All gas plants built subsequently are required to meet higher sulphur recovery efficiency levels, while pre-existing gas processing plants were "grandfathered" from the regualtion.  As part of a program to improve sulphur recoveries at these older plants, the AEUB introduced new sulphur recovery guides (EUB ID 2001-03) which sets maximum allowable limits on the amount of inlet sulphur that could be processed through "grandfathered" plants.  Sour gas plants wishing to operate in excess of allowable inlet sulphur rates must "degrandfather" by increasing sulphur recovery efficiency to the levels established in the original IL 88-13.  Keyera voluntarily degrandfathered its Rimbey gas plant in 2001, its Brazeau gas plant in 2002.

Deregulation:  the process of changing natural gas market regulation to allow for a greater role of market forces to balance supply and demand

Diluent:  a hydrocarbon product, most often condensate that is used to thin bitumen to anable it to flow in a pipeline

Downstream sector:  the refining and marketing sector of the petroleum industry.

Ethane:  an NGL (C2H6), the uses of which include enhanced oil recovery, as a fuel and as a feedstock for the petrochemical industry

Frac oil:  a special blend of condensate that is beneficial in the well servicing industry and is used extensively in Western Canada for well stimulations

Gas products:  natural gas products; NGLs and sulphur

H2S:  hydrogen sulfide; sour gas commonly found in deep, high pressure deposits such as those in the eastern slopes and foothills of the Rocky  Mountains.  The petroleum industry has adopted a general definition of sour gas as containing more than one percent H2S.  H2S is flammable, has a strong rotten-egg odour, and is poisonous to animals and humans.  About one-third of Alberta's sour gas production contains H2S.  In addition to occurring naturally in geological formations, H2S is produced by bacteria in water tanks, sewage disposal sites and the intestines of animals and himans.  Combustion converts H2S into water vapour and sulphur dioxide (SO2).

Hydrocarbons:  organic compounds containing a mixture of carbon and hydrogen

Inert gases:  gases which are unable to or unlikely to react with any other substance

Inlet Separation:  the initial stage of processing at a natural gas processing plant where the incoming raw gas stream enters a vessel and any free liquids such as water and NGL's are removed from the gas stream before it is further processed.

Methane:  the principal constituent of natural gas; methane (C1H4); is the simplest hydrocarbon molecule, containing one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms.  Methane is lighter than air, high combustible and is the cleanest buring fossil fuel.  Complete combustion of methane produces only water and CO2.  Methane is considered a greenhouse gas.

Midstream sector:  the processing, storage and transportation sector of the petroleum industry.

NGL or "NGLs:  natural gas liquids, consisting of any one or a combination of ethane, propane, butane and condensate.

NGL Straddle Plant:  a gas processing plant located on or near a gas transmission line which removes residual NGLs that remain in the sales gas.  The straddle plant operator then replaces the energy equivalent of the liquids removed in the form of natural gas and returns the sales gas to the transmission line

Pentanes:  a hydrocarbon substance, generally a liquid at atmspheric conditions, with the chemical formula C5H12

Propane:  an NGL (C3H8) used as a fuel (i.e.: in barbeques, transportation and heating of households in areas where natural gas supply is not available).

Raw gas:  natural gas before it has been subjected to any processing that may be required for it to become suitable for sale

Sales gas:  natural gas that has been treated in a natural gas processing facility and is suitable for sale. Some of the processes that natural gas may undergo are inlet separation, gas treating, dehydration and NGL recovery before it enters a transmission pipeline for eventual transportation to market

Sour gas refers to natural gas that contains an amount of H2S in excess of the content permitted in gas to be transported on a particular gas pipeline, or which the AEUB considers to be sour gas.  The petroleum industry has adopted a general definition of sour gas as containing more than one percent H2S.  

Sulphur:  a yellow mineral extracted from natural gas which is used in the manufacture of fertilizer, pharmaceuticals and other products

Sulphur dioxide:  combustion converts H2S into water vapour and sulphur dioxide (SO2).  SO2 is not flammable, has less odour than H2S and is generally dispersed in the atmosphere by the heat of combustion.  Canada's natural gas industry has made strides in significantly reducing the amout of SO2 released into the atmosphere.

Sulphur recovery:   the process within a natural gas processing facility whereby natural gas containing hydrogen sulfide undergoes a series of chemical reactions to form elemental sulphur, which is removed from the natural gas stream

Sweet gas:  natural gas that is not sour gas, (ie:  contains no H2S or less than one percent H2S when produced).

Upstream sector:  the companies in the petroleum industry that explore for, develop and produce Canada's petroleum resources.

WCSB:  the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin, which is the major natural gas producing area in Canada and the second largest natural gas basin in North America.  The WCSB covers the parts of the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan and the southern portions of the Yukon and Northwest Territories.

West of the 5th meridian (W5 or "West-5"):  the fifth meridian bisects the province of Alberta on a north-south axis essentially following highway two.  The area west of the fifth meridian is considered to be a less mature petroleum basin in that it has not been as extensively explored as the region to the east of the meridian.