Have you ever wondered how your home is heated? How are homes in the United Kingdom and Europe heated? Why do the Russians, for example, export such high volumes of natural gas to Asia and Europe, and how do they extract and use this? In this article, we’ll investigate electricity generation and share how natural gas is mined.
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Natural gas is a fossil fuel, a non-renewable source of energy. Natural gas is formed deep in the bowels of the various sections of the earth. The most commonly found natural gas is methane, but natural gases can also be found as what are termed natural gas liquids. Natural gas is found deep in the earth, and it requires exploration and mining to extract. The gases are trapped in sections of the earth, between rock layers, and need to be drilled to extract them. Exploration of natural gas mining requires scientific research to locate and deep-drilling to test and extract.
It is the job of geologists to explore, pinpoint, and direct the mining operations to discover the pockets of natural gas in the earth. Drilling is the most common method to release these natural gases. The drilling can take the form of vertical or horizontal drilling, and acidizing. Hydraulic fracturing (more commonly known as fracking) is most often used: these drills force water, chemicals, and other sand types at high pressures into the earth to break up the rock formations and release the trapped gases. The miners then insert pipes to better direct the trapped gas to the surface where it is then transported to processing plants. This form of mining has several environmental impacts, though. The chemicals used in fracking are highly toxic and can create dangerous wastewater that often contaminates and ruins underground water and surface water sources alike. These water supplies are then rendered unsafe for drinking, cooking, bathing, industrial and farming practices.
Horizontal drilling occurs when mining operations create a well that moves horizontally and not vertically. This allows the mining companies to drill deep down into the earth, and then drill sideways into more pockets of natural gas to extract as much of the energy as possible for the lowest possible amount of investment and expense.
Acidizing dissolves the rocks that block or interrupt the flow of the natural gas to the surface.
According to sources, the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) has stated that the world’s natural gas deposits are 6,289 trillion cubic feet. An estimated 112,920 billion cubic feet is extracted each year.
Even though natural gas takes millennia to form the world’s vast natural gas fields and supplies are finite. It is, however, an economical method of heating homes, cooking, and generating electricity. Natural gas is also another type of fuel for transport machinery, such as cars, trucks, and boats.