What are the advantages and disadvantages of natural gas extraction?

Natural gas is a fossil fuel. Natural gas is formed when layers of decomposing plant and animal matter are exposed to intense heat and pressure under the surface of the Earth over millions of years. The energy that the plants originally obtained from the sun is stored in the gas. Trapped deep below the ground, it is extracted and transported to power electricity, generate electricity and provide heat for homes.

The majority of the world’s natural gas production occurs in the USA, Iran, Qatar, Russia and Turkmenistan. Gas is typically transported across countries using pipelines.

YAMBURG, RUSSIA - A pipeline crosses a Gazprom owned and operated natural gas field in Siberia.

YAMBURG, RUSSIA – A pipeline crosses a Gazprom owned and operated a natural gas field in Siberia.

More recently, shale gas has been extracted using controversial fracking techniques. Fracking involves injecting bedrock with water and chemicals to extract gas.

The fracking process

The fracking process

What are the advantages of natural gas extraction?

  • Natural gas is one of the cleanest fossil fuels, releasing 45% fewer carbon emissions that coal and oil.
  • It does not produce waste products, such as coal ash.
  • If there is a gas leak is disappears quickly into the air, whereas oil leaks have a devastating impact on the environment and are expensive to clean.
  • Gas can be easily transported through pipelines, direct to industry and residential properties.
  • There are considerable reserves of gas around the world.
  • Gas can be used for both heating and cooking.

What are the disadvantages of natural gas extraction?

  • Gas is highly flammable, which means leaks can result in explosions.
  • Natural gas is toxic.
  • Gas infrastructure is expensive, pipelines cost a significant amount of money to construct.
  • Unless and odorant is added to the gas, leaks can go undetected.
  • Earthquakes have been caused by the controversial process of fracking.
  • Burning natural gas results in the release of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide.




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