About Natural Gas

Natural Gas is An Essential Part of America’s Energy Mix: Natural gas supplies nearly one-fourth of all of the energy used in the United States. Here are some things you may not know about natural gas and how it is used in the United States.

Natural gas is widespread, time-tested, and delivered safely.

The U.S. natural gas delivery system is safe, efficient and respected around the world. Gas utilities serve more than 68 million residential customers and more than 5 million commercial enterprises. Many gas utilities have been serving their customers for more than a century.

Nationwide delivery system provides a vital link to consumers.

300,000 miles of natural gas transmission pipelines provide a vital link between producers and consumers. Millennium’s 244 miles of right-of-way is part of this national system. According to the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), 99.999997 percent of natural gas is delivered safely.

Natural gas use has real environmental benefits.

According to INGAA, natural gas makes up 24% of the U.S energy fuel supply, but only makes up 2 percent of the U.S. total greenhouse gas emissions. While U.S. gas production is up 37 percent since1990, greenhouse gas emissions are down 17 percent.

 

INGAA_infographic

(Infogaphic: The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America)

How is natural gas formed?

Natural gas is made up of just two elements – carbon and hydrogen. It is part of a family of chemicals known as hydrocarbons, which also includes oil and gasoline. As its name suggests, natural gas comes out of the ground as a gas; oil, gasoline and other hydrocarbons are recovered mixed together in a liquid called crude oil.

All of the natural gas we use today began as plants and animals living millions of years ago. Over time, these plants and animals died and formed layer after layer of sediment. Sediment, combined with heat and pressure formed oil and natural gas.

Once created, some oil and natural gas migrated all the way to the surface and escaped. Other oil and natural gas deposits migrated until they were caught under impermeable layers of rock or clay, where they were trapped. These trapped deposits are where we find oil and natural gas today.

Where is the natural gas used in the U.S. produced?

Most of the natural gas consumed in the United States is produced in the United States. 33 states are now producing, or have produced, natural gas. Canada provides most of the rest of the U.S. gas supply.

How do we get natural gas?

The search for natural gas begins with geologists, who study the structure and processes of the Earth. They locate the types of rock that are likely to contain gas and oil deposits.

Today, geologists’ tools include seismic surveys that are used to find the right places to drill wells. Seismic surveys use echoes from a vibration source at the Earth’s surface (usually a vibrating pad under a truck built for this purpose) to collect information about the rocks beneath.

Once the gas is found, it flows up through the well to the surface of the ground and into large pipelines.

Some of the gases that are produced along with methane, such as butane and propane (also known as “by-products”), are separated and cleaned at a gas processing plant. The by-products, once removed, are used in a number of ways. For example, propane can be used for cooking on gas grills.

Natural gas withdrawn from a well may contain liquid hydrocarbons and nonhydrocarbon gases. This is called “wet” natural gas. The natural gas is separated from these components near the site of the well or at a natural gas processing plant. The gas is then considered “dry” and is sent through pipelines to a local distribution company, and, ultimately, to the consumer.

Dry natural gas is also known as consumer-grade natural gas. This is the type of gas transported in the Millennium Pipeline. In addition to natural gas production, the U.S. gas supply is augmented by imports, withdrawals from storage, and by supplemental gaseous fuels.

Most of the natural gas consumed in the United States is produced in the United States. Some is imported from Canada and shipped to the United States in pipelines. A small amount of natural gas is shipped to the United States as liquefied natural gas (LNG).