Canada is the fourth largest producer of natural gas in the world and the fifth largest exporter; the Centre’s Director for Diffusion of Knowledge foresees possibilities for collaboration

On December 4, the FAPESP Shell Research Centre for Gas Innovation (RCGI) welcomed the visit of Ms. Nadine Lopes, Officer for the Development of Petroleum, Natural Gas, and Ocean Technologies of the Canadian Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro. She heads up the Trade Commissioner Service, provided by the Canadian government to companies that desire to internationalize and participate in prospection opportunities in other countries. Ms. Lopes became interested in the work of the RCGI, after reading about the Centre on the internet, and suggested she make a visit. She gave a presentation regarding Canada’s petroleum and natural gas sector, and attended the presentation of the Director for Diffusion of Knowledge of the RCGI, Gustavo Assi, regarding the Centre.

“I and other colleagues, who are experts in a variety of areas, serve as communication channels for Canadian companies with the local market, helping those that want to talk with Brazilian institutions, not only companies, but also research institutions. We receive and take missions to Canada, and we open doors for Canadian companies in such places, for example, as this research center, which could be of interest to them regarding some specific project developed here,” Ms. Lopes explained.

Besides Professor Gustavo Assi, she was also welcomed by Professor Dominique Mouette, coordinator of the RCGI’s Project 25, and by Human Resources Director Karen Mascarenhas. The Canadian guest reminded that Brazil and Canada have had an agreement in the area of science and technology, since 2010. “Notices from FAPESP, FAPERJ, and other FAPs are eligible for participation by Canadian companies and centers. Thus, Canadian companies seek Brazilian partners with whom they can dialogue, in order to also take part in those notices.”

Canada has the world’s third largest probable reserves of petroleum and natural gas, with 174 billion probable barrels, 170 billion of which coming from oil sands and another four billion available in conventional reserves. “Today, Canada produces approximately five million barrels per day, 95% of which are from onshore fields, especially in the Province of Alberta, but also a bit from the Provinces of Saskatchewan and British Columbia,” Ms. Lopes added.

The country is the world’s fifth largest producer of energy and petroleum, the fourth largest producer of natural gas (and the fifth largest exporter), and the largest exporter of raw petroleum to the U.S. “The oil and gas sector represents about 7% of Canada’s GDP,” she stated.

Natural gas and biogas – According to Ms. Lopes, natural gas now represents 35% of Canada’s energy matrix, but there is a movement within the country, headed up by private enterprise, to raise this figure to 43%.

“Approximately 21 million Canadians consume natural gas on a daily basis, distributed among seven million consumer units – residential, industrial, and commercial. The average expense for residential use of natural gas is 1,061 Canadian dollars per year.”

She says that the NG sector in Canada is under the control of private enterprise, and there are no state-owned companies involved in either distribution or pipelines. “Over the past ten years, 21 million Canadian dollars have been invested in Canada’s pipeline system, with over four billion invested in 2017 alone.

Ms. Lopes presented a summary of the industry’s vision for the sector over the next two decades. “The pillars are: support the growth of the renewable natural gas (biogas) market, which is an area that has been seeing exceptional growth; expand the use of natural gas in rural areas, via gas pipelines or liquid natural gas transported by trucks; develop the vehicular natural gas (VNG) market; support technological innovation in the natural gas sector, as well as energy efficiency initiatives and the areas of safety and cyber security.”

The Canadian expert also explained that the Provinces of Quebec and British Columbia are the ones that invest the most in biogas, with the country’s most important and innovative projects. In 2018, Canada carried out 11 biogas projects delivering power to 55,000 residences. A large part of this energy source is generated from residues of sanitary landfills.

“The current cost of biogas runs about 6-14 cents on the dollar per kilowatt, and the industry’s goal is that, by 2025, 5% of the energy be generated from biogas, with this percentage being increased to 10% by 2040.” She says that to that end a fund was created for commercializing the technology of biogas companies.

“The RCGI has a biogas expert, Professor Suani Coelho, who coordinates Project 27, and getting together with her, in this regard, would be very well accepted. She recently released an interactive map marking the hotspots for biogas production in the State of São Paulo, as well as the potential for generating energy with biogas,” said the RCGI’s Human Resources Director, Karen Mascarenhas.

Ms. Lopes also said that the Federal government and some of the Canadian Provinces (especially British Columbia and Ontario) have invested in infrastructure and vehicles powered by natural gas in the public transportation fleet (for medium and heavy cargo transportation).

Professor Dominique Mouette stated it is expected that there will be an expansion of the use of LNG in heavy vehicles in Brazil. “The VNG market for cargo transportation will likely grow. We recently did a study among truck drivers and found a high degree of receptivity, because they are concerned about costs.”

Ms. Lopes also reminded that in Canada the Provinces are responsible for regulating the petroleum and natural gas sector, in contrast to what happens in Brazil, where this responsibility is attributed to the Federal government. “In Quebec, there is a large shale reserve, for both oil and gas, but they are against its exploration, and will not do it. However, in British Columbia, they do fracking, in their shale exploration, and they are producing a lot.”

Opportunities – The viewpoint of the RCGI’s Director for Diffusion of Knowledge, Gustavo Assi, is that there is plenty of room for cooperation between Brazil and Canada in the natural gas and other sectors. “In light of the reality and availability of natural resources in the two countries, I believe that Brazil and Canada have much to offer to scientific and technological cooperation in the development of the use of natural gas. I believe that the Trade Commissioner Service can work closely with the RCGI and Canadian companies and universities.”

He pointed out the model for approximation with industry and with government sectors that the RCGI has been developing, in line with its emphasis on innovation and the transfer of technology. “An approximation with companies, Canadian companies, for example, via the transfer of technology, became easier with the proactive model of the RCGI, which was not found in the university a short time ago.”

Assi reminded that the Centre also has much contact and scientific collaboration with the University of Calgary, in Alberta, and invited the visiting Canadian official to the next ETRI (Energy Transition Research Innovation) event, which should be held in 2020 and will also include stands by companies and institutions interested in being at the event. “The RCGI can play a catalyzing role for researchers and institutions involved with the subject of natural gas and energy transition, which could be useful to the Trade Commissioner Service, and also very good for the Centre.