Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, for the opportunity to be here.
I will make my presentation in English, since my French is not very good, but you may ask questions in French.
I will give an overview presentation on natural gas and natural gas in transportation in Canada. You should all have copies of the slide presentation in front of you.
The first slide talks about the focus of my industry, which is the customer. We are a network of delivery organizations across the country delivering natural gas to 6.3 million customers across the country.
Natural gas currently meets approximately 30% of Canada's end-use energy needs. It isn't well known that it's more than electricity on a national basis. We believe there are significant future opportunities for the use of natural gas in homes and businesses in close integration with alternative energy services, like partnering in renewables; partnering with district energy systems, or in combined heat and power systems for broader use for gas power generation; and most importantly, in terms of our presentation here today, for transportation.
The chart on the right of the slide gives you a breakdown of natural gas use in Canada.
I mentioned that my member companies are the delivery side of the value chain for natural gas in Canada. We have 6.3 million customers, and we estimate that represents about 20 million to 25 million Canadians coast to coast to coast. That gas distribution industry is growing. We also represent transmission companies, manufacturers, and suppliers. You can see a breakdown there of the companies across the country.
The next slide talks about the product and its attributes. Much of what we do is try to explain these attributes to Canadians. There are seven key ones that we highlight. It is a domestic resource. It is abundant. We used to talk about a 30-year supply, but new discoveries give us estimates of more than a 100-year supply in Canada. There's the fact that it is affordable and has continued to be affordable as the price of gas has gone up and down over the last several decades. The price is at historic lows right now, which makes it even more affordable. It's clean. There are fewer emissions than alternative fossil fuels, and because of how it partners with other technologies in its versatile and efficient end use it's very clean.
I mentioned its versatility. It has been a reliable energy source without interruption for decades in Canada. Ultimately, the most important priority is that it's safe. Safety is the first priority for our industry across the country.
I'll go through the opportunities we have identified for natural gas in transportation. First is for on-road heavy, medium, and urban vehicles. The opportunity for natural gas in heavy-duty vehicles is the most significant one. Natural Resources Canada conducted a road map highlighting this opportunity, and it's the focus of our activities today. The life-cycle carbon emission reduction opportunity by use of natural gas in heavy-duty vehicles is 20% to 25%. Increasingly important is the cost-saving opportunity that the fuel option represents. In the right-sized fleet it can reduce fuel costs by 15% to 30%. That number varies so much because it depends on fuel use, type of vehicle, and other similar variables.
The next slide gives you a graphic image of vehicle trends in Canada and demonstrates why we're focusing on the heavy vehicle use opportunity. Heavy truck use in Canada has increased significantly over the last 20 years. It's about 4% of the on-road fleet, but represents almost 30% of on-road GHG emissions. That trend for increased use is continuing, so the opportunity to deliver on affordability and a cleaner emission profile is significant there.
There are other opportunities for natural gas in transportation as well. In the next slide we talk about the use of LNG, or liquefied natural gas, as a marine fuel. This is an opportunity that has emerged very dramatically over the last couple of years. In large part it's a response to the changing supply picture and the consequent affordability. As fleets are switched over when engines retire, the timing is very good for the opportunity for natural gas.
The next slide talks about rail and remote communities. These are two opportunities that are just emerging in our consideration. There are conversations going on with rail companies across Canada about substitution of natural gas as an alternative.
Remote communities are a particularly exciting opportunity, in our view. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of remote communities across Canada's north, as all of you will know. Those communities tend to be fuelled by diesel, which is very often flown in at enormous cost. Oftentimes that cost is borne by the national taxpayer where there is federal assistance. So there is an opportunity to deliver a cleaner fuel option that is much more affordable.
The other point about the gas application, as I mentioned earlier, is its versatility. It can be combined with other technologies, so this offers a chance to bring a variety of different applications for energy services to these northern communities.
Last but not least is the opportunity in homes and in communities. The focus of our work is on the heavy-duty vehicle opportunities, but we do want to acknowledge the long-term opportunity that would exist in lighter-duty vehicles.
In terms of personal vehicles, technology is not the issue. Original equipment manufacturers—that is, the major automotive companies—are bringing product into the marketplace around the world. There is not product in the Canadian marketplace of any significance at this time, but as the conditions continue to change that should change. What we need is to build public interest and Canadian market demand.
I'll mention a couple of leading adopters for you. Those of you from ridings along the 401 may recognize in the picture in slide 10 a truck from Robert Transport, a Quebec-based trucking company, which is in a partnership with Gaz Métro and with Enbridge Gas Distribution for the substitution of natural gas in their trucking fleet. They are ultimately going to 180 trucks, and I believe they're at 50 right now, so it's a significant venture and it's one that's highly visible on a principal transportation corridor in Quebec, la Route bleue , the Blue Road, as it's known.
Next I will talk about a couple of leading adopters. There's Vedder Transport, in British Columbia, which is refuelling an LNG-powered truck fleet; and Waste Management, WMI, which is working with FortisBC on a CNG fuelling station. CNG of course is compressed natural gas.
I had mentioned applications in marine, which are detailed for you, for some work that is under way right now for liquid natural gas for ferries in Quebec. This is a new initiative with Gaz Métro, involving ferries crossing at a number of points on the St. Lawrence. The delivery of vessels is scheduled for spring 2013 and 2014. Those of you who are familiar with that part of the country will know that the amount of ferry traffic is very significant across the St. Lawrence, so there are significant opportunities there. It's not exclusively on the St. Lawrence, it's also up the Saguenay River and elsewhere, but it's significant.
A summary of advantages of natural gas: the supply picture is a dramatically improved one that has worked to improve its affordability; the safety record is extraordinary and a first priority for the industry and an ongoing priority; the environmental advantages I've already highlighted; and of course the natural gas pipeline infrastructure is one of the hidden jewels of the system.
I mentioned the 6.3 million customers. What that represents is an extensive distribution system already in place across the country. That distribution is on the back of the highway system of the natural gas industry, which is the pipelines that are distributing this product right across the country. That infrastructure is an enormous national asset, which we can better utilize as we go forward in trying to drive our better energy use.
Some of the barriers we have—and I know my colleague Alicia Milner will get into these a little bit more—are refuelling infrastructure, upfront capital costs, and codes and standards. We are working on these in various ways.
I'll start from the bottom up, on codes and standards. The work with the NRCan round table has been a significant first step in an effort to make sure that the conditions are in place for the market to evolve. That work continues, and NRCan is to be applauded for the efforts they've undertaken there.
On the upfront capital costs, when you think about moving to natural gas as a transportation fuel, you think about the fuel, you think about the vehicle technology, and you think about the infrastructure. We're there on fuel. In some instances, particularly for heavy-duty vehicles, we are there on the vehicles. The issue is whether the refuelling infrastructure is in place. Those early market leaders I identified are helping to put that infrastructure in place, but we have more to do there.
We should also think about this as a continental opportunity. I know that Alicia Milner is going to reference that as well.
With respect to the role of the gas distribution utility, we have a great national asset in our delivery pipeline infrastructure. We have significant history in delivering natural gas. And we have the ability and interest to partner and invest in new ventures as we go forward.
The last slide is a snapshot, which I'll talk about. I'm happy to give you more information on it at a later date. ETIC stands for Energy Technology & Innovation Canada. It's a new venture we've started at the CGA to stimulate investment in demonstration projects for new applications of natural gas. We believe that the key to long-term energy and environmental sustainability is to drive efficiency and innovation. Utilities are leaders in doing that, and through ETIC we hope to do that more. Transportation is one of the four areas in which we're doing that. The others are integrated community energy systems, the use of renewable natural gas, and industrial processes.
I just want to highlight that venture as something I would be happy to get all of you more information on at a later point.
With that, Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. My apologies, but I'm fighting a cold.