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Millions in royalties are disappearing into thin air

New research shows that Albertans are missing out on significant revenue that could pay for new schools, playgrounds, or nurses because oil and gas companies are wasting natural gas.

The primary ingredient in natural gas is methane and the oil and gas industry is responsible for over 70% of the province's methane pollution. Natural gas, like all our fossil fuel reserves, belongs to the people of Alberta and can only be sold once so when companies pull that natural gas out of the ground and sell it they pay royalties to Albertan government for the privilege. 

But the oil and gas industry is letting vast amounts of natural gas go to waste - either through intentional venting or through unaccounted for leaks. If that natural gas was captured and sold instead of just simply lost to the atmosphere the Alberta government would be bringing in royalties worth up to $21 million a year

Over five years that comes to $105 million dollars. That could get you: 

  • 181 full-time nurses
  • 420 school playgrounds
  • 25 new schools

Letting this natural gas just disappear into thin air is irresponsible not only for Albertans' pocketbook but for the climate as well. Wasted natural gas is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide -- by some estimates it's over 80 times more destructive to the climate.

However, this is a solvable problem. Not only is detecting and capturing wasted natural gas relatively cheap and easy the government of Alberta along with industry, environmental groups and the federal government are working on methane regulations to reduce methane pollution 45 per cent by 2025. The trouble is those talks have stalled. 

Alberta needs to stop this waste and take decisive action on regulations on wasted natural gas. 

Use our tool below. Send your MLA -- and cabinet -- a message. Together we can push them to take real action.

Sources for this article --

Methane estimates from the Pembina Institute

Estimates of nursing costs provided by United Nurses of Alberta

Methane reduction targets from Alberta's Climate Leadership Plan

Prices of playgrounds and schools from the Government of Alberta

Context from National Post coverage of the regulation negotiations