Many stoves and home furnaces burn a fuel called natural gas. Natural gas is really a mixture of several different gases that formed slowly beneath Earth’s surface.
How Natural Gas Formed
Natural gas often formed along with petroleum (oil) hundreds of millions of years ago. As plants and tiny animals died, their remains built up in many layers. Underground pressure and heat gradually changed the remains into gas and petroleum.
Types of Gas
The gases that make up natural gas include methane, ethane, propane, butane, and other substances. Because these gases burn very easily, they are valuable as fuels.
Gas may also be made from coal and petroleum. This type of gas is called manufactured gas.
Mining and Transportation
Natural gas may be trapped in an underground pocket, or reservoir, above a deposit of petroleum. Natural gas may also be trapped in its own reservoir. Russia has the largest group of natural gas reservoirs in the world.
To get natural gas out of the ground, workers drill a well into the gas reservoir. The gas rises through a pipe to the surface. Special equipment then purifies, or cleans, the gas.
The clean gas may be stored underground or sent through pipelines to where it is needed. Gas pipelines can be hundreds of miles long. Natural gas may also be cooled into a liquid form and then shipped in tanks.