TransCanada is a leading North American energy infrastructure company with a strong focus on natural gas transmission and power generation opportunities located in regions in which it has significant competitive advantages. Natural gas transmission and power are complementary businesses for TransCanada. They are driven by similar supply and demand fundamentals, they are both capital intensive businesses, and they use similar technology and operating practices. They are also businesses with significant long-term growth prospects.
North American natural gas demand is growing and is mainly driven by the demand for electricity. Experts predict that demand for electricity will increase at an average annual rate of approximately two per cent over the next ten years primarily due to a growing population and an increase in gross domestic product. A large part of this growth is expected to be met through higher utilization of natural gas-fired power generating plants that were built as part of the significant capacity additions that occurred in many North American markets over the last five years.
Nuclear facilities have played, and will continue to play, a significant role in supplying North America with power and new nuclear capacity is expected to come on stream over time. Coal-fired plants remain the largest source of electric power in North America and coal reserves are significant. However, the long lead times required to complete new coal and nuclear projects, the associated environmental and socio‑economic issues, the high capital costs and the difficulty in locating these plants near load centres may impede the development and completion of new coal or nuclear generation over the next five to ten years. As a result, North America is expected to continue to rely on natural gas-fired generation to satisfy its growing electricity needs in the near term. This is expected to lead to a significant increase in natural gas consumption. Natural gas demand in North America, including Mexico, is expected to grow to approximately 92 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) by 2015, an increase of 16 Bcf/d when compared to 2005. New natural gas-fired power generation is expected to account for approximately 10 Bcf/d of that growth.
While growing demand will provide a number of opportunities, the natural gas industry also faces a number of challenges. North America has entered a period when it will no longer be able to rely solely on traditional sources of natural gas supply to meet its growing needs. Current high natural gas prices suggest that North America is in a period of transition and significant change. Natural gas supply is tight and this is likely to continue until major investments are made in the infrastructure required to bring new supply to market. Looking forward, production from North America's traditional basins is expected to essentially remain flat over the next decade. An increase in production in the United States Rockies will likely only offset declines in other basins, including the Gulf of Mexico. This outlook for traditional basins means that northern gas and offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) will be required to fill the expected shortfall between supply and demand. TransCanada is well positioned in North America to serve growing power demand in the near term and to bring new natural gas supplies to market in the medium to longer term.