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Where does Natural Gas come from?

You use it in your stove, your oven, and perhaps, in your dryer, but do you know where natural gas comes from? Yes, that's right - it comes from underground pipelines that travel right into your home, but where does natural gas actually originate? And how does it get from its production point all the way into your clothes dryer?

The Great Beginnings of Natural Gas

Hundreds of millions of years ago, the world was a very different place. There were no buildings, people, or animals that you'd recognize today, but there were a lot of plants, trees, and teeny tiny sea creatures. Over time, these organic beings died, and proceeded to sink to the bottom of the sea. Time, rock formations, and pressure turned the organic matter into something called peat. Then, as the years passed, heat from the center of the earth changed the peat into petroleum and other fossil fuels.

Discovering Natural Gas

How did this natural gas fossil fuel become a useful source of energy? First it had to be discovered. This was accomplished when, in some places, the trapped gas was released above ground creating unusual spouts of heat and fire. Eventually, scientists realized that deep beneath the ground, there were vast resources of this energy producing gas just waiting to be extracted.
Nowadays, when a company is looking for natural gas, they just look for a certain type of rock formation above ground. Failing that, there are tests that can be done by measuring sound waves and gravitational pulls in a particular area. If the tests are promising, exploratory teams start drilling.
Drilling like this turns up a natural gas resource about half the time. In order to tap into the underground reserve, the drilling team must dig about 6000 feet into the ground.

Making Natural Gas Available

Once the natural gas reserve is discovered, the gas is extracted from the ground by a pipeline and sent to power plants, factories, and processing plants. Here, the gas is cleaned, separated, and converted into a usable fuel for homes and businesses. It is then sent to underground reservoirs where it waits for distribution via smaller pipelines.
Sometimes, natural gas is compressed and transported by trucks to more rural areas where pipelines aren't available. This compressed natural gas is stored in small metal tanks.

Distribution of Natural Gas Around the World

The United States produces a quarter of the earth's natural gas. It is located all over the country, but the five best sources for the fossil fuel are Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Louisiana.
Aside from the United States, natural gas can be found in many other places, with the highest concentration in the Northern Hemisphere. The world's largest natural gas field is in Qatar. The second largest is located in the Persian Gulf.

The next time you boil a pot of water, just remember that what's fueling the fire is natural gas, a form of energy that began its journey to your stove millions of years ago. Time, environmental changes, exploration, and careful extraction and transportation have come together to bring this amazing fossil fuel to homes all over the world.

Natural Gas
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