Things You Should Know About Natural Gas - June 23rd 2003


Things You Should Know About Natural Gas

----- A Little Information About Odorless, Colourless, Non-Toxic and Lighter Than Air Natural Gas -----

Natural gas is a safe, highly efficient form of energy which has been used by Canadian consumers since 1912.

It's a colourless gas that is lighter than air. Its most abundant component is methane (about 95% by volume.) The remaining 5% consists of ethane, nitrogen, propane, other heavier hydrocarbons, and trace contaminants such as sulfur compounds and water.



WHERE DOES NATURAL GAS COME FROM?

Natural gas is found beneath the earth's crust where gases have been formed over millions of years from decomposing plant and animal matter.

Natural gas reservoirs are frequently (but not always) found above petroleum reserves. A gas well is a hole drilled through rock through which pressurized natural gas rises to the surface and is collected. The gas is processed to remove contaminants such as water, hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide. Once the gas is clean, it is shipped via transmission linkes to distribution companies where it is odourized for safety reasons and sold to the customer.



NATURAL GAS FACTS

Natural gas is lighter than air, which means it dissipates quickly in well-ventilated areas - unless it becomes trapped in an enclosed space. Given the right concentrations of natural gas and air, natural gas can ignite from sparks from electrical switches or appliances and from open flames such as matches and pilot lights. Fire or explosions can result.

Natural gas is not poisonous, but it can cause unconsciousness in high concentrations when it displaces air.

Natural gas is odourless, so we add an odourant that smells like sulphur or rotten eggs to make it easy to detect small leaks.



DO YOU KNOW WHAT NATURAL GAS SMELLS LIKE?

Because natural gas is odourless, we add trace amounts of a chemical called mercaptan, which has a distinctive rotten egg or sulphur-like odour. It smells bad for a good reason! In case of a leak, we want you to be able to detect and identify it.



WHAT TO DO IF YOU SMELL GAS

If you think you smell gas, do the following:

Open doors and windows

DO NOT smoke, light matches, operate electrical switches or create any source of ignition

Leave the premises

Turn off your gas at the meter, if you know how

Get to a nearby phone and call you local natural gas utility

If you smell gas, or in case of emergency - don't wait! Smell gas? Report it fast!