Natural gas energy also produces pollution

Gas exploitation

La natural gas energy is seen with good eyes since it is about much cleaner fuel than charcoal and is sometimes used as its natural substitute.

However this positive reputation is not so true as it seems according to various reports and reports, in which it is explained how the energy that comes from natural gas produces a great pollution when the process of extracting it is carried out. It is precisely when it burns in the combustion process that it is clearer because its gas emissions are lower at that time.

You have to be careful with how certain products are valued, since it is not only the last section in which the contamination produced is not evident, but in the entire process. Fracking or hydraulic fracturing is precisely where its most polluting moment is.

Fracking consists in creating fissures in the rock so that part of the gas flows to the outside and can be extracted in a better way later from a well. In addition, the problem with this system is that chemicals are used in this part of the production that are then released into the atmosphere.

One of the serious problems is that it contaminates the underground drinking water and causes large emissions of CO2 and methane, which worsens global warming and climate change. Due to the contamination of the underground drinking water, it happens that the health of the population near the deposits worsens substantially apart from those wastes that go into the air.

A fossil fuel

Natural gas flames

Natural gas is a fossil fuel, although global emissions from its combustion they are not the majority of the problem that if it causes the coal or the petroleum.

Natural gas emits 50 to 60 percent less CO2 when combusted in a new natural gas power plant compared to typical emissions from a coal plant. It also reduces the gases released into the atmosphere by 15 to 20 percent compared to those caused by a gasoline engine in a vehicle.

Where yes that its emissions are found in the extraction and drilling of gas natural gas from wells and its transport through pipelines resulting in methane filtering, a gas even more powerful than CO2. Preliminary studies show that methane emissions account for 1 to 9 percent of total emissions.

Pollution in the air by generating energy from natural gas


Natural gas implies cleaner combustion than other fossil fuels, as it produces tiny amounts of sulfur, mercury and other particles. Burning natural gas produces nitrogen oxide, although at lower levels than the gasoline and diesel used in vehicle engines.

10.000 American homes that work With natural gas instead of coal, it avoids annual emissions of 1.900 tons of nitrogen oxide, 3.900 tons of SO2 and 5.200 tons of particles. Reducing those emissions become public health benefits, as those pollutants have been linked to problems like asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer, and more.

Although there are these benefits, the development of unconventional gas can affect local and regional air quality. High concentrations of air pollutants have been experienced in some areas where drilling occurs.

Exposure to high levels of these pollutants can promote respiratory problems, cardiovascular problems and cancer.


Fracking diagram

Hydraulic fracturing is a technique to increase oil and gas extraction underground. Since 1947, some 2,5 million well fractures have occurred around the world, including one million in the United States.

The technique consists of generate one or more high permeability channels through the injection of high pressure water, so that it overcomes the resistance of the rock and opens a controlled fracture at the bottom of the well, in the desired section of the hydrocarbon containing formation.

The use of this technique has allowed oil production will increase by 45% since 2010, which made the United States the second largest producer in the world.

It is also noted that the environmental impact of this technique, which includes contamination of aquifers, high water consumption, air pollution, noise pollution, migration of gases and chemicals used to the surface, surface contamination due to spills, and possible health effects derived from it.

Another of the most serious cases of fracking is increase in seismic activity, most associated with deep fluid injection.

Pollution of aquifers


With hydraulic fracturing of the well has caused the leakage of gases, radioactive materials and methane to the drinking water supply.

There are documented cases of aquifers near gas wells that have been contaminated with fracking fluids as well as gases, including methane and volatile organic compounds. One of the biggest causes of pollution is a poorly made construction or wells that rupture allowing gas to leak into the aquifer.

The fluids used in hydraulic fracturing also have reached abandoned wells, as well as some improperly sealed, which ultimately results in these aquifers being contaminated.


Earthquake road cracks

Fracking has been linked to low magnitude seismic activity, but such events are usually undetectable on the surface.

Although the use of wastewater when injecting it at high pressure in class II injection wells has been linked to earthquakes of greater magnitude in United States. At least half of the earthquakes of magnitude 4.5 or greater have struck the interior of the United States in the past decade have occurred in regions where fracking occurs.

A new study published in 2016 and conducted by a team of geologists and seismologists from the Texas Methodist University of South and the United States Geological Survey, showed that the injection of large volumes of wastewater combined with the extraction of brine from the subsoil in the wells depleted gas was the most likely cause of the 27 earthquakes that between December 2013 and spring 2014 felt by the population of Azle, in Texas, where they had never had any connection with the earthquakes.

Its possible effects

Apart from the increase in earthquakes, the chemical compounds used in this technique could pollute both land and aquifers underground, according to the British Royal Society in 2012.

You can also find three scientific papers published in 2013 that coincide in indicating that groundwater contamination from fracking it is not physically possible. What is clear is that in order for it not to occur, the best operational practices must always occur. It happens that this is not always the case, so there is the great problem of polluting the underground aquifers.

Documentaries on the energy of natural gas

Documentary Gasland

There are several documentaries where a clear opposition can be found to fracking like Josh Fox's Gasland. In this it was exposed the problems of contamination of aquifers near the extraction wells in places like Pennsylvania, Wyoming and Colorado.

The funny thing that it was an oil and gas industry lobby that questioned those collected in the film Fox so that the Gasland website would refute the claims made by the lobbyist group.

Another interesting film is Promised Land., presented by Matt Damon on the subject of hydraulic fracturing. Also in 2013, Gasland 2 was presented, the second part of the documentary in which he affirms his portrait of the natural gas industry, in which presenting it as a clean and safe alternative to oil, is really a myth. Long-term leaks and air and water pollution ultimately harm local communities and put the climate at risk due to emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

Looking for a substitute for natural gas energy

Solar panels as an alternative to natural gas energy

With all this said, the natural gas is not that clean as it has been tried to show, but in its process it releases pollutants into the atmosphere as happens when the fracking technique is used.

That is why it is convenient to know the reality that surrounds the energy of natural gas and keep pushing very hard for other energy sources that are completely clean and sustainable over time such as wind or solar, which is where we must go in order to keep this planet safe and sound.

All those fuels based on the fossils inevitably lead us to that Paris Climate Summit in which dozens of countries had to resort to certain decisions to place next year in one in which renewable energies should be the main objective.

Do you want to know what natural gas boilers are and how they work? Do not miss this article:

natural gas boilers
Related article:
Everything you need to know about natural gas boilers

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  1.   Diana Alvarez said

    Adriana I liked your article and I want to use it for my thesis, could you pass me your data to reference you correctly and the date on which you published this article. Thanks

  2.   vicardig said

    New clients of Fracking in Chiapas, buses that run on natural gas, and few know the ecological damage it entails in the country, despite the fact that it carries "ECO" in its name. Hydraulic fracturing destroys the nature of our country

  3.   ssslabb said

    The big problem for environmental groups in this country is the lack of technical training and the lack of intellectual rigor in their arguments. It is important before facing a technique or the exploitation of a resource, to know it thoroughly, if not as I have said before, the arguments lack intellectual rigor and therefore of any validity.
    The debate is absolutely necessary, society must be aware and current development cannot compromise the development of future generations, but ignorance and fear cannot stop current development.
    Natural gas when burned produces 1/5 of the CO2 emissions that those produced by burning coal, of course it is not 100% clean but it is a much better option.
    It is false that hydraulic fracturing is necessary for the extraction of natural gas, it can occur in a conventional way if the reservoir allows it, and this has been done until now.
    Finally, uncontrolled methane emissions during natural gas production are tried to be minimized as much as possible, this is easily understandable, when an extraction company spends huge amounts of money on a production well, the last thing it wants is for the object to your research will escape you. Still, it is sometimes unavoidable, but to mitigate this in production plants there are torches that burn the escaping methane (very harmful and with a greenhouse effect 8 times higher than CO2) into CO2, with a much lower greenhouse effect.
    Global warming is a very serious problem to take into account, and the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere must be reduced as much as possible. Personally, I believe in a transition towards a society with lower and lower carbon emission levels until reaching 0. But that in the short term is complicated and it is important to be rigorous in the debate and take into account the most interesting models.

  4.   Carlos Fabian said

    Manuel Ramirez let me tell you that your article is quite good, I thought that "natural" gas did not really pollute but I see now totally different, it is painful how water is sacrificed, for this.
    You are right about wind energy, but this also has its cons because when they find long periods of winter this energy would run out, now I would like to ask you what other non-polluting options we could use?

    1.    Manuel Ramirez said

      Thanks for your comment Carlos!

  5.   Maria Morinigo said

    caring for the environment is caring for ourselves

  6.   Consulting QualityConsulting said

    Excellent theme and good point ... everything that is fossil will never be green

  7.   Brayan said

    It is true it is natural gas but it is harmless (that's what people think). But it is a fossil fuel which means that it is depleted and polluted

  8.   Daniel Martinez Olivo. said

    The publication of the article is very good. I subscribe to the few interested «from the clan of the race», regarding the greenhouse effect and global warming that affects us all and in the end it will kill us not to stop it for the anxious search for riches that no one will take to the grave but that yes it will leave in return, its cooperation poisoning the planet. This has led me to promote very soon an important electrification project in the Dominican Republic, starting with the free fall of the water from the Caribbean Sea by gravity in a first stage through tunnels with low-fall anti-corrosion turbines, and in a second stage with the same amount of water through the passage through a large reverse osmosis machine room, which deposited in a large reservoir will produce that second stage. The resulting water already at 44 meters below sea level (in the valley of La Bahía de Neiba) will be industrialized and used for consumption and agro-industry as well as chlorides and other products that will be extracted by electrolysis such as molecular gold, etc. .

  9.   Alexander ocampo said

    I would like to know which of the two gases, propane and natural, produce more carbon monoxide when burned?
    I ask because I always used bottled propane gas and recently switched to home natural gas.
    Since I switched to natural gas, I have detected a certain burning smell that makes me dizzy, which did not happen to me when I used propane. I further understand that c. it is odorless ... can someone help me?

  10.   Joseph said

    Good morning, could you give me your information so that I can refer you to part of my research. Thanks

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  12.   Luis Antonio Riano said

    Good evening I am conducting an investigation on the contamination of natural gas and I liked your article could you give me the data for reference my investigation.
    Thank you

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  14.   MARITZA MORALES said

    Manuel Ramírez, I liked your article on "natural gas energy also produces pollution" and I liked it and I want to use it for my thesis, could you pass me your data to reference you correctly and the date on which you published this article. Thanks