Natural Gas Exploration and Distribution
Natural gas occurs in its raw form among oil and coal deposits throughout North America and other parts of the world. These deposits formed when layers of decomposing animal and plant matter came under intense heat and pressure over millions of years, under the surface of the earth. This raw form of natural gas is a mixture of methane and other hydrocarbons like butane, as well as various amounts of contaminants. When brought to the surface through gas and oil wells it also contains water, sand, and other drilling substances.
Natural gas in Georgia is just like it is everywhere else on earth. Like oil and coal, natural gas is a fossil used, and it a plentiful supply, for the energy needs around the world. These energy needs serve, not only our homes for heating and cooking, but also for generating electricity.
The search for natural gas begins with exploration, looking for potential deposits deep below the surface of the earth. When likely deposits are found they are further explored by drilling test wells to determine the feasibility of the field.
When the field is determined to produce a sustainable amount, wells are drilled, and connected with pipes to a processing station where the raw natural gas is cleaned of the contaminants until it is about 97% methane. This refined, or dry, gas is then fed to a pumping station where it enters the national grid of pipelines to be delivered to the consumers. While the raw gas differs from area to area, the dry, refined gas is virtually the same.
These national pipelines operate at high pressures in excess of 1,000 psi to facilitate the rapid delivery of the product.. Gas intended for home and commercial use is taken off at a station called a citygate where the pressure is reduced to only a few psi. This is the clean burning product that flows under the streets of your city. It is further reduced in pressure to about 0.75 psi at your home gas meter.
As a safety feature the familiar rotten egg smell has been added to the gas to alert customers should a leak occur. Another safety feature is the national call before you dig program, 8-1-1. This program requires individuals and companies to call 8-1-1 before digging to allow all the utilities to come to the location and mark their underground lines. In addition, each gas pipe company has crews on call 24/7 to respond to any emergency.
All of this happens behind the scenes, and out of sight to you, the ultimate consumer, but is essential to the safe delivery of the clean burning natural gas that serves our homes and businesses.