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. Conventional natural gas is found in subsurface rock formations and is extracted through a well drilled into that formation. In recent years, an increasingly large proportion of domestic natural gas is produced from low-permeability formations, such as shale. Extracting natural gas from these tight formations uses hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" technology to increase permeability and enable the gas to be extracted.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working with the natural gas industry to ensure that natural gas extraction does not come at the expense of public health and the environment (see EPA's Unconventional Oil and Natural Gas Development page).
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 meet certain pipeline quality specifications with respect to water content, hydrocarbon dew point, heating value, and hydrogen sulfide content.
To learn more, see natural gas production data and analyses from the Energy Information Administration.