Where does Natural Gas Come From?

Published: 26th July 2007
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Natural gas is a resource on which much of the world relies as an energy source. Though pure natural gas is odorless and colorless, it is highly combustible and burns cleaner than other fossil fuels. Natural gas is usually obtained from reservoirs deep within the earth by drilling, and is often found alongside oil deposits and extracted during oil drilling operations by companies such as Western Pipeline Corporation. Both oil and natural gas which are found within the earth form from the remains of ancient organic matter that has undergone intense pressure and heat in the absence of oxygen. Under these intense heat and pressure conditions for long periods of time, carbon bonds in the organic matter break down and eventually form deposits of oil and natural gas. Deposits containing oil, natural gas and water are not uncommon. Due to differences in density, oil tends to float on top of collected water, while the lighter natural gas rests above the oil.

Though oil and natural gas often occur together in deposits deep within the earth, natural gas may also be found alone. Sophisticated equipment is used to determine locations where reservoirs are likely to be found below, and drilling equipment is used to reach and extract the resources. Once natural gas forms, its low density causes it to rise toward the surface of the earth following the path of least resistance. Loosely packed and porous rocks allow natural gas to travel through, with much of the natural gas reaching the surface and being released into the air. However, a large quantity of natural gas will become trapped within the earth when it reaches an impermeable layer of rock, forming a natural gas reservoir. Such reservoirs are the target of drilling operations aimed at extracting this valuable resource from the earth. When a hole is drilled into the impermeable rock, pressure inside the reservoir is released, and the natural gas escapes on its own and is collected and refined for our consumption.

Natural gas is made up of hydrocarbon gases, with the primary component being methane. Natural gas from the earth commonly contains substances such as butane, propane, and ethane, which are removed during the refining process and can be sold individually for other applications. The natural gas that is regularly delivered to homes for heating and cooking is almost pure methane. The high level of energy produced along with its clean burning properties make natural gas an attractive option for use as an energy source in commercial, industrial and residential environments.

About the Author: Bob Jent is the CEO of Western Pipeline Corporation. Western Pipeline Corp specializes in identifying, acquiring and developing existing, producing reserves on behalf of its individual clients.

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