Natural Gas Question & Answer

What is Natural Gas

Natural gas forms when plant and animal matter are trapped beneath solid rock under tons of pressure for millions of years. Made up mostly of methane, natural gas is both odourless and tasteless in its original form. To see the chemical composition of natural gas, click here.

Where does our natural gas come from?

Union Gas buys natural gas from a variety of suppliers and has access to a several alternate pipelines to transport natural gas into our system. Western Canadian suppliers comprise the largest source of natural gas which is then transported to our pipeline system through TransCanada Pipelines Limited. Additional natural gas is purchased from U.S. sources and Ontario producers. Through diversity of suppliers and a prudent mix of short and long term gas supply contracts, we secure a reliable supply at a fair price.

Why does natural gas have an odour?

Mercaptan, a harmless, non-toxic substance that has a strong "rotten egg" smell is added as a safety precaution to natural gas (and propane) to make it easier to detect in case of a leak --Natural gas is itself colourless and odourless. If you should detect this odour in your home, immediately open windows, leave the house and call us from a neighbour's telephone. We'll send a Service Representative to investigate. We provide 24-hour emergency response to anyone who calls in and tells us they smell gas. We work very hard at maintaining exacting safety standards and we take pride in our safety record.

What should I do if I smell gas?

Here's what to do if you smell that smell:

  • Evacuate your home immediately.
  • Call Union Gas at 1-877-969-0999 or 911 from a safe distance (like a neighbour's home).
  • Don't use electrical switches, appliances, phones, garage door openers, motors or motor vehicles, matches or lighters and don't smoke.
  • For more natural gas safety tips

How can I be sure of an uninterrupted supply?

At Union Gas we impose and follow stringent operating procedures and standards to ensure you have a reliable supply of natural gas.  We purchase natural gas from a variety of suppliers and have access to a number of alternate pipelines to bring natural gas into our system. This gives us operational flexibility and lowers the risk of service disruption.  In addition we have backup facilities to ensure continuous operation of important lines and equipment and we conduct periodic reviews of our emergency response system.

How is the price for natural gas established?

Natural gas like other commodities, is publicly traded and the market price varies in response to factors such as weather or availability of supply. Union Gas adjusts the rates we charge our customers for natural gas every three months to reflect ongoing changes in the market price of natural gas and these costs are passed through to customers without any mark-up. All rate changes require Ontario Energy Board approval.

Can we run out of natural gas?

There is an abundant supply of natural gas -- so much so that natural gas will continue to be the energy source of choice for Canadians for many decades to come. This conclusion is strongly supported by statistics put out by both the National Energy Board and Natural Resources Canada’s Geological Survey of Canada.