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Study: Gas is Big Business in Canada

More than 16% of Albertans are employed in some area of the natural gas industry, according to an industry-sponsored study, and gas accounts for about 6.7% of Canada's gross domestic product (GDP), compared with about 2.7% of GDP in the United States.

IHS Global Insight conducted the study, which was commissioned by America's Natural Gas Alliance. "The Contributions of the Natural Gas Industry to the Canadian National and Provincial Economies" is unique in that it specifically calculated the number of jobs supported by the gas industry, numbers usually found only in combination with oil industry employment figures, IHS said.

"All of the provinces...have natural gas-related jobs. Even those with no natural gas production have direct jobs in other areas, such as natural gas distribution, pipeline transportation or upstream support and construction services," the study report said.

Nearly 600,000 Canadians were working in jobs supported by the gas industry in 2008, and the industry contributed more than $106 billion in 2008 to Canada's GDP. IHS found that the economic impact of the gas industry in Canada was larger than the total GDP of all but four Canadian provinces in 2008.

Comparing Canadian results with a similar IHS study of the U.S. gas industry, the firm found that natural gas had a greater relative impact in Canada, accounting for 3.5% of all Canadian jobs, as opposed to only 2.1% of all U.S. jobs.

Alberta (324,700 total jobs in 2008), British Columbia (BC) (111,743) and Ontario (99,314) were the top three provinces in terms of overall jobs supported by the industry. In BC 4.8% of employment was attributable to the gas industry, making it second after Alberta.

Alberta has the largest financial stake in the gas industry, which supports 27.7% of the province's GDP, or $80 billion in economic impact. Saskatchewan ranked second, with natural gas supporting 5.1% of total provincial GDP at more $3 billion; and BC ranked third at 4.5% of total provincial GDP, or $9 billion.

IHS looked at gas and gas liquids extraction, upstream support and drilling, pipelines and storage, and gas distribution (including marketers and brokers), as well as engineering and construction services at all levels.

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