Natural Gas Here, There, Everywhere

Natural GasMaria Turconi
External Affairs Intern
Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation 

Every day, some fractivist tells the world it can easily do without natural gas, but some open eyes and a dash of common sense reveal just the opposite.

Like other energy sources natural gas plays an important role in various sectors of manufacturing ranging from chemical industry to paper production. Pricewaterhouse Coopers released a report in October of 2012 estimated that by 2025 the Shale gas industry could add 1 million manufacturing jobs in the U.S. The report also stated that chemical companies stand to benefit from the Shale gas boom lowering production costs of raw materials and energy.

Companies are capitalizing on natural gas to create low-cost chemicals that are used in the production of plastic-based substitutes that would serve as alternatives to more expensive textiles like wood, leather and metals.

Natural Gas - Thousands of items are produced using natural gas.

The Chemical Industry

Some natural gas has extra hydrocarbons that must be separated before the natural gas can continue to the end source which leaves behind natural gas liquids (NGLs). NGLs are rich in hydrocarbons such as ethane, butane and propane all of which are valuable in the chemical markets.


The hydrocarbons that are prevalent in NGLs are components in a variety of feed stocks used to make pharmaceuticals. Chemicals derived from NGLs can be found in over the counter drugs, prescriptions and even specialized medical gasses.

Fertilizer and Glass Cleaners:

natural gas - cleanersA major component in most fertilizers on the market today is ammonium nitrate. Ammonium is chemical compound of nitrogen and hydrogen and acts as an important nutritional compound for plants. Natural gas serves as a source of hydrogen for the ammonium nitrate chemical reaction.

Ammonium is also found in many different household cleaners because it is known to create that, “Streak-free shine,” that commercials are always talking about.


Similar to how natural gas is involved in the chemical industry, it also plays a large role in the production of plastics. Natural gas is used to make all types of polymers that are used in the manufacturing of everything from playgrounds to contact lenses.

The following video from Total Refining Chemical breaks down the process by which natural gas is transformed into a chemical that can be used to make plastics for all types of products.

From Natural Gas to Plastics from Bricks Without Straw on Vimeo.

Pretty fascinating, isn’t it? Natural gas is here, there and everywhere, touching our lives in myriad ways.

Editor’s Note: This article originally posted at Well Said Cabot.

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3 thoughts on “Natural Gas Here, There, Everywhere

  1. The use of natural gas as a feedstock for durable goods is entirely defensible and a proper use of our nations fossil resources. However, it is a small amount compared to its in thermal power plants and other combustion processes which generate climate-damaging CO2 emissions.

    Present and projected use of natural gas in manufacturing could easily be met by conventional wells meaning that the high-risk process of hydraulic fracturing is unnecessary. Pretty fascinating, isn’t it?

    • Your entire premise is flawed, Cliff, because you insist on believing those Park Foundation hacks. Here’s what the National Academy of Sciences says:

      “…we find that per unit electrical output, the central tendency of current estimates of GHG emissions from shale gas-generated electricity indicates life cycle emissions less than half those from coal and roughly equivalent to those from conventional natural gas.”

      Moreover, it’s a peer-reviewed study and the lead author is with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

      It’s become increasingly clear to me you only accept what you want to believe, Cliff. Obama’s EPA and the National Academy of Sciences recognize what is obvious – that shale gas is part of the solution, not the problem – but, you’re hung up on the bought and paid for “science” of a couple of ideological quacks and advocates from Planet Ithaca because you mistakenly believe shale gas is diverting money from renewables by offering relatively inexpensive energy. It’s a negative philosophy that will get you nowhere.

      If you want to advance renewables such as wave energy, then start dealing in the real world and you might get some serious interest. As it is, you’re aligning yourself with the wackos and losing credibility by the comment. Let’s have a positive discussion on the things on which we can agree, including the potential of wave energy, but don’t think your NIMBY and ideological friends will support you. They’ll turn on you in a heartbeat. You’re far more likely to get support from us because we live in the real world.

  2. Well Tom I think there is a glimmer of hope in common sense parts of what Cliff is saying in regards to plastics feedstock. The rhetoric stuff he quotes from the Park Foundation seems like the same old Cliff, though. I am sure Cliff, in his wave energy projects, has to employ plastics and thus he sees the benefits. Cliff also talks of co-generation. I could not agree more as natural gas from shale, tight sandstone, biomass or landfills is the route many should be taking. One can’t deny the efficiency of NG and its flexibility of uses. This is why I push so hard for it. The opportunities are huge for places getting into this. Great article, Maria!

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