Have you ever wondered how natural gas is produced? How it gets to your home? There are many steps that take place behind the scenes in order to get natural gas to your home.
Natural Gas Production
Natural gas is a nonrenewable fossil fuel comprised of organic material; primarily the remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago. As plant and animal remains build up deep beneath the earth’s surface, they’re exposed to extreme heat and pressure. The continuous heat and pressure eventually break down the carbon bonds in the organic material, creating natural gas.
The final product consists almost entirely of methane, a gas with one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms. Today, scientists and engineers work together to find production sites to drill for natural gas, both onshore and offshore. Natural gas is then procured by drilling wells into silt and/or rock formations which contain gas deposits deep underground.
Natural Gas Extraction
Once natural gas bubbles to the surface through the well, it is transported from the wellhead and producing fields through pipelines to a gas processing plant. At a natural gas processing plant, methane-rich gas is separated from heavier gases like ethane and butane and potentially harmful gases like sulfur and mercury.
Natural Gas Distribution
Once processed, natural gas moves along transmission pipelines to a compressor station, where the gas is pressurized to give it energy to move through pipelines at a steady pace of 15 miles per hour. The gas then flows into distribution pipelines maintained by your utility. When the gas reaches the utility company, mercaptan is added. This chemical gives natural gas its distinctive smell of "rotten eggs" and acts as a safety feature alerting consumers to any potential gas leaks.
Next, the natural gas is pumped through smaller underground pipelines called “mains”, before finally reaching the smallest lines, called “services”, which connect directly to your home or business. Since the demand for natural gas is significantly greater in the winter months, gas is stored along the way in underground storage systems throughout the remainder of the year, and is released into transmission pipelines when people begin to use more gas.