The Natural Gas Value Chain can be illustrated by demonstrating the life cycle of a natural gas well from drilling to end-user. The process involves drilling and then producing the gas in the well if reserves are large enough to warrant commercial production.
The produced natural gas is commonly held in inventory underground under pressure in three types of facilities. These underground facilities are depleted reservoirs in oil and/or natural gas fields, aquifers, and salt cavern formations. Natural gas can also be stored in a liquid or gaseous form in above–ground tanks.
It is sometimes converted to Liquefied Natural Gas which is cooled to approximately -260 degrees Fahrenheit for shipment and/or storage. It is loaded onto large specialized LNG ships for importing and exporting.
Because of its clean-burning nature, natural gas has become a very popular fuel for electricity generation. New technology has allowed natural gas to become the fuel of choice for new power plants built since the 1990s.
CNG (compressed natural gas) can be used as a fuel source. There are two types of CNG infrastructure. Fast-fill stations are for retail situations where vehicles arrive randomly and need to fill up quickly. Time-fill stations are used primarily by fleets and work best for vehicles with large pressure vessel-mounted tanks that refuel at a central location every night.
Large commercial and industrial consumers purchase natural gas for manufacturing and as a heat source, to make fertilizer, antifreeze, plastics, pharmaceuticals, and fabrics. It is also used to manufacture a wide range of chemicals.
Over one-half of the homes in the United States are supplied with natural gas. Most of the natural gas consumed in homes is used for space heating and water heating. It is also used in stoves, ovens, clothes dryers, lighting fixtures and other appliances.