Natural gas was discovered thousands of years ago, when seepages were ignited by lightning, some of which were venerated as religious symbols.
Rembrandt Peale, a famous portrait painter, founded the first natural gas utility in the country in 1816. He had lit his Baltimore portrait gallery with a gas lamp and saw it as an excellent replacement for street lamps fueled by oil, which had lit the city to that point.
In its pure form, natural gas is colorless and odorless. Utility companies add the smell of rotten eggs – a product called mercaptan – to make natural gas detectable.
Natural gas grills were invented in the 1960s by William Wepfer and Melton Lancaster, who worked in marketing for the Arkansas Louisiana Gas Company. They were tasked with creating new demand sources for natural gas and converted a traditional charcoal grill to use propane.
Natural gas storage facilities can range from 1,500 to 6,500 feet below the surface and span up to 2,000 feet in height underground. Spectra Energy’s “tallest” cavern is the Bobcat 4 storage facility, which is ~1,680 feet tall, high enough to fit the Empire State building, which stands at 1,250 feet to its architectural height and 1,454 feet with its antenna.
Crude oil ranges in consistency from water to a nearly solid state.
Crude oil moves at a speed of roughly three miles per hour via pipeline, a standard walking pace.
Natural gas is used to generate power, fuel industry, and heat and cool homes and businesses. Petrochemical products derived from natural gas include plastics, fertilizer and medicine.
In addition to being a vehicle fuel, oil is used to make common synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, vinyl and acrylic.
With the advent of new drilling technology, natural gas has become less expensive to produce in the United States, leading to economic benefits and lower carbon emissions: petrochemical producers have announced new projects, leading to more jobs – and power producers have relied more heavily on natural gas to generate power, reducing the nation’s carbon footprint.
There are more than 150,000 natural gas vehicles on American roads. Most of these vehicles use compressed natural gas (CNG), but liquefied natural gas (LNG) is increasingly becoming an option for trucking fleets and railroad engines. CNG powers diverse vehicles such as city buses, garbage trucks, truck shipping fleets and personal vehicles.
Natural gas complements renewable technologies such as wind and power, providing the necessary low-emission backup generation.
The United States and Canada are both top five producers of gas, crude and other liquids.
William Hart dug the first natural gas well in the U.S. outside Fredonia, New York, in 1821. The well was about 27 feet deep compared to today's wells, which are dug thousands of feet underground.
The oil and gas industry is a high-tech field. Producers have developed technology to identify resources deep underground and drill at immense pressure to produce hydrocarbons. The last decade delivers a prime example of technology at work: natural gas production in the United States was in decline through the mid-2000s, when relatively high prices justified the cost of combining hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. This led to the “shale boom” we see today that has changed global energy dynamics.
Natural gas pipelines form a complex network throughout the United States and Canada. There are more than 305,000 miles of intrastate and interstate natural gas transmission pipelines in the United States, connecting 210 systems, 400 underground storage facilities and 49 export points.
Storage facilities help meet large and immediate natural gas demands. During the winter, consumers get roughly 15-20 percent of their natural gas from stored gas, according to the American Gas Association.