Flames from Natural Gas
Natural gas was not valuable in the early stages of petroleum exploration because it was hard to get it to markets. As a result, the gas was either burned off at the well or released into the air. Flaring and venting still happen in places where there aren’t enough markets or transportation infrastructure for gas or where the gas itself is contaminated with other, non-flammable gasses.
The World Bank estimated in 2011 that 5.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (25 percent of total U.S. consumption) is burned each year, mostly in countries that don’t have the infrastructure to process the gas. Since then, gas flaring has risen in the U.S. as the amount of oil being made in places like North Dakota’s Bakken shale has quickly increased.
Natural gas is processed
The natural gas we operate in our residences, and power plants comprises more than 90% methane. Other substances may be combined with the raw gas from a well. Water, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, liquid hydrocarbon condensate, and heavier gaseous hydrocarbons like ethane, propane, and butane are some of the things that these substances can be made of.
Most of these elements are separated from the methane at a processing plant. The hydrocarbon byproducts are used for other things, and the water, CO2, and other compounds are being thrown away as waste. Natural gas is odorless, so sulfur-based compounds with a rotten-egg smell are added before piping to homes. This makes it easier to find leaks if they happen.
The transportation of natural gas
The United States has a highly complex pipeline system that moves natural gas from places made to sites where people use it. In 1891, one of the first significant pipelines in the United States was built to carry gas from central Indiana to Chicago, and it was one of the first. After World War II, there was little construction until the 1950s and 1960s when a national gas pipeline network proliferated. This network still grows today.
They have over 300,000 miles of big pipelines used to move natural gas around the country. More than two million miles of more minor, low-pressure pipelines bring the gas to individual homes and businesses. Most of the natural gas that the United States needs comes from North American sources through pipes.
If you move natural gas from the wellhead to your home or business, it can be dangerous. The Pipeline and Materials Safety Administration is in charge of ensuring that natural gas pipelines are safe and keeping track of how many people have been hurt or killed in natural gas pipeline casualties in the U.S.
Before 2012, 370 significant accidents happened at natural gas transmission pipelines, primarily because of corrosion and other issues with the pipes, as well as floods and storms. At least ten people died in these accidents, and 85 were hurt. Natural gas distribution pipelines had 311 major safety problems during this same time. Most of them were caused by digging up the channels. These accidents led to 41 deaths and 230 injuries. How many people died and were hurt.
Also, natural gas leaks from transmission and distribution pipes are a significant source of pollution that causes climate change. When a study was done in 2012, it found 3,356 different leaks in Boston’s streets caused by broken pipes. The study said that Boston isn’t the only city with old natural gas distribution systems and that methane leaks are expected in other cities. Liquefied natural gas, or LNG, can get natural gas across long distances where pipelines aren’t.
During making LNG, natural gas is compressed and then cooled to about minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit. This step turns the gas into a liquid and reduces its volume by a factor of 600. LNG can then be shipped in specially-built tankers that can be used to move it worldwide. A receiving terminal takes the LNG when it reaches its destination. Then, it is produced to gas form and sent through local pipes to end-users.
LNG needs a lot of infrastructure to cool and compress natural gas into a liquid, ship it around the world, and return the LNG to gaseous form at the other end. In addition, it takes a lot of energy to make LNG and keep it cool while it’s being transported. Recent drops in the price of natural gas in the United States have made LNG less competitive than gas delivered by pipeline.
In 2010, LNG made up 6% of the United States’ natural gas. Most of the imported LNG came from Trinidad and Tobago. The rest came from Qatar, Yemen, Norway, and Egypt. LNG natural gas imports hit a high point in 2007, but they quickly dropped after the expense of natural gas in the United States declined.