How is Natural Gas Made?

Natural gas is a combination of combustible gases that are formed beneath the ground by decomposing organic materials in animals and plants. It is typically found places where oil is present, though there are many large underground reservoirs of natural gas. Natural gas is used widely for cooking and heating and in variety of applications in industry.

In manufacturing natural gas, there are several methods involved such as extracting, processing, transporting, storing and distributing. This depends on the place, raw gas composition, location and application of the gas.

  • Extracting – Underground reservoirs of natural gas are under sufficient internal pressure allowing the gas to flow up the well and reach the surface of the Earth without extra help. When the raw natural gas already reached the surface, it will be separated from the oil that could be present and then it is piped into a central gas processing plant.
  • Processing – Gas coming from underground reservoir is easier to process compared to that from oil wells. Wherever the source, the most raw natural gas has sand, dirt and water vapor that should be removed before they are further processed to prevent contamination as well as corrosion of the pipelines and equipment. In case the raw natural gas has large amount of heavier hydrocarbon gases like butane and propane, the materials are then removed to be separately sold. Bubbling the raw gas through a closed and tall tower that has absorption oil is the most common method. At this time, the natural gas contains ethane, methane and little amount of propane that was not trapped.

The natural gas contains hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide in high percentage that will react with the rest of the water vapor in the gas and form an acid. Other natural gas contains nitrogen in higher percentage. If helium needs to be captured, it must be done after removing nitrogen.

  • The processed natural gas is injected with mercaptan giving it a peculiar warning odor. Then the gas is moved across the country in one of the major pipelines that are installed underground. Once the pressurized natural gas already reaches the vicinity of its final destination, it will be injected back into the ground sometimes for storage.

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