About Natural Gas

Natural gas is, well, natural. It's made of the remains of ancient plants and animals that ruled the Earth about 500 million years ago.

Millions of years ago, a sea covered Canada's prairie provinces. Tons of creatures known as trilobites (they looked like tiny crabs) and small plants lived in the sea. They survived on water and energy from the sun. When trilobites and their fellow plant creatures died, they fell to the bottom of the sea. Then they were buried in layers of mud and sand. Over time, they got buried deeper and deeper.

After a while, the pressure and weight of the layers turned the mud and sand into rock. Layers of sand, dirt and mud covered these animals and plants and eventually it all changed to rock. The buried plants and animals decayed into tiny bubbles of colorless, odorless gas. The gas was trapped in the pores of the rock deep underground.

The first step is for scientists to find the gas. Scientists use a bunch of tools and techniques to discover where the natural gas is. Once the gas is located, holes are drilled and a well is built. The gas then flows, through pipes, to a plant where the gas is cleaned. The main ingredient of natural gas is methane gas. When methane gas forms underground, other gases such as butane and propane form too. These gases are removed at the plant to make natural gas 95 percent methane. Natural gas is a safe, reliable and clean choice for home heating, water heating and appliances.

Next, the natural gas is moved through underground pipes from places like Alberta (where gas is found underground) to Ontario. The pipeline from Alberta to Ontario is one of the longest in the world. To keep the gas flowing, compressors - which are like jet engines - give the gas a push to keep it moving. It takes about four days to move natural gas from Alberta to Ontario.

Once in Ontario, a special chemical called mercaptan is added to the gas. Mercaptan makes the gas smell like rotten eggs. Without mercaptan, gas has no smell at all. Adding mercaptan is a safety feature. It ensures that if gas leaks, people will smell the gas and call an expert to fix the leak.

After its long journey, the gas rests deep underground until it's needed. When you turn on your furnace or natural gas grill, the gas flows through smaller pipes into your home and provides energy to warm your home or cook your dinner.

Top 5 Benefits of Natural Gas Infographic