A. Natural gas consists mostly of methane with small amounts of heavier hydrocarbons and a small amount of hydrogen sulfide.
1. Conventional natural gas lies above most reservoirs of crude oil.
2. Natural gas is sometimes burned off as an unwanted by-product of oil drilling, a waste of an energy source.
3. Unconventional natural gas is found in other underground sources. Methane hydrate deposits are about twice as abundant as the earth’s oil, natural gas, and coal resources combined. Found under sediments at the ocean floor.
4. Extraction techniques are too expensive at present, but are rapidly being developed. Methane hydrates must be kept cold, or they release methane into the atmosphere when they reach the surface.
6. Methane is dried of water, cleaned, and pumped into pressurized pipelines for distribution.
B. Natural gas is a versatile fuel. It can be used to run fleet vehicles and medium-sized turbines to produce electricity. They are cheaper to build, require less time to install, and easier and cheaper to maintain than coal and nuclear power plants.
C. Russia and Iran have about 30% of the world’s reserves of conventional natural gas, and global reserves are expected to last 62–125 years. The US has about 2.5% of the world's reserves.
1. The long-term outlook for natural gas supplies is better than for conventional oil.
2. Natural gas use should increase because it is fairly abundant and has lower pollution and CO2 rates/unit of energy compared to other fossil fuels.
D. Natural gas was burned to provide about 53% of the heat in U.S. homes and 16% of the country’s electricity.
1. U.S. production of natural gas is declining, and a reversal does not seem probable.
2. Canadian imports are possible, but Canadian production is expected to peak between 2020 and 2030.
3. Shipping of LNG is very expensive and reduces net energy yield. It is also flammable and could lead to large-scale fires at receiving terminals.