What About Natural Gas?

Oil isn't the only form of petroleum that is important. Another form of petroleum is natural gas. Natural gas is primarily used as a fuel, or to heat our homes. In many ways, natural gas is very similar to oil. Under pressure, gas acts as a liquid. Because of this, it behaves very similarly underground as oil. In fact, where there is oil, there is almost always at least some natural gas present.

In many cases, natural gas and oil come from the same source material, but different factors determine whether oil or gas is created. One factor is the amount of "cooking" (or "maturation") that the source rock undergoes. With just a relatively small amount of heat and pressure, natural gas will be produced. With more heat and pressure, natural gas will be chemically turned into oil. Oddly enough, even more heat and pressure would then produce natural gas again. Another factor in this process is the source of the organic material. Organic material from the ocean, usually the tiny creatures known as diatoms and foraminifera, get turned into oil. Material from land, however, such as dead bits of plants swept into the ocean, generally become natural gas.