Conventional Natural Gas Production
The vast majority of natural gas in the United States is considered a fossil fuel because it is made from sources formed over millions of years by the action of heat and pressure on organic materials. Most natural gas is drawn from wells or extracted in conjunction with crude oil production. Natural gas can also be mined from subsurface porous rock reservoirs through extraction processes, such as hydraulic fracturing.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working to ensure that natural gas extraction does not come at the expense of public health and the environment (see EPA's hydraulic fracturing information).
Once extracted, the gas is separated from free liquids, such as crude oil, hydrocarbon condensate, water, and entrained solids. The separated gas is further processed to meet specified requirements. For example, natural gas for transmission companies must generally meet certain pipeline quality specifications with respect to water content, hydrocarbon dew point, heating value, and hydrogen-sulfide content.
A dehydration plant controls water content, a gas-processing plant removes certain hydrocarbon components to hydrocarbon dew point specifications, and a gas-sweetening plant removes hydrogen sulfide and other sulfur compounds (when present).
To learn more, see natural gas production data and analyses from the Energy Information Administration.