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Alberta Online Encyclopedia
Canadian Petroleum Heritage
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Natural Gas

Natural gas and propane are the only two petroleum products that can be used by the consumer in almost the same form it left the upstream producing areas. One thing is added however to make the product smell. Mercaptan is added to make these naturally odorless gases pungent. This is done for safety reasons to alert people there is a leak. By minimizing any issues with natural gas, the industry makes it appealing to the consumer.

Natural gas is sold by the supply or marketing departments of production companies such as the marketing branch of Shell Canada. The buyers can include oil refineries, petrochemical companies, industrials and commercial companies, and local gas distributors. Consumers generally obtain natural gas from the local distribution companies who bought the gas from the producers and resell it. Local distribution companies like ATCO Gas in Alberta charge a delivery fee for this service.

Prices for natural gas fluctuate greatly due to many factors. The balance between supply and demand in North America affects the prices. For example, if the supply levels are low and the demand is high, then the price increases as the natural gas has to be imported. Other factors that affect the price are access to reserves, costs of transportation, storage, and distribution.

 

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