Natural gas is an energy source that is found beneath the earth’s surface. It contains many different compounds, such as methane, ethane, propane, and brupane, with methane being the most significant component of natural gas. It is used as the fuel for making many chemicals and materials.
Natural gas was formed over a long period of time, millions to hundreds of millions of years ago. The remains of animals and plants, mixed with calcium carbonate, sand, and silt, built thick layers on the surface of the earth and the ocean. With pressure and heat, and being rich in carbon and hydrogen, these changed into different materials, becoming coal, petroleum oil, and natural gas.
Where is Natural Gas Found?
There are various places natural gas can be found, having specific characteristics for each.
It can be found in different places like cracks and spaces in large rocks and even layers of overlying rocks, creating sometimes referred to as conventional natural gas.
Unconventional natural gas occurs in tiny areas or pores in sedimentary rocks like sandstone and shale. This can also be referred to as tight gas or shale gas. Another occurrence of natural gas is with deposits of crude oil called associate natural gas. There are natural gas deposits found on land, and some can be found deep under the ocean floor and offshore. A final location of natural gas can be found in coal deposits called coalbed methane.
How Natural Gas Can Be Used
To maintain oil pressure in oil wells, natural gas can be reinjected, vented or burned, into oil-bearing formations. This method is used where natural gas pipelines are not available to utilize associated natural gas sources.
When coalbed methane is added to natural gas lines without special treatment, it is extracted from deposits of coal before or during coal mining. Although most of the natural gas used in the United States is produced within the country, some of it is imported from other countries, and this sometimes includes liquified gas. It burns more cleanly than other fossil fuels and emits lower levels of harmful chemicals and greenhouse gases.
Natural gas has proven to be a cleaner energy alternative. As it gains momentum in the energy economy, it is becoming more and more of a viable option to replace other fossil fuels.