Natural gas, one of the principle sources of energy, contains methane (70 – 90 percent) and other hydrocarbons like ethane. It is a fossil fuel. In its pure form, it is colorless, odorless and shapeless. It has many uses for mankind. It is also one of the cheapest sources of energy. It is used in generation of electricity. It is used in homes for cooking, drying, heating, etc. It is used as a fuel for automobiles. It is also used in the manufacture of fertilizers, paint, steel, glass, plastics and fabrics. When burnt, it emits lower levels of potentially harmful byproducts. Burning gas emits 23 percent less greenhouse gas than burning oil.
Natural gas reserves are found all over the world. Organic materials when exposed to high temperature and pressure, get converted to natural gas. This is what happens deep in the earth (13,000 feet underground). Exploration geologists are qualified to identify locations where natural gas deposits are available. Once a potential natural gas deposit is located, it is extracted through drilling (both onshore and offshore.)
Drilling for natural gas can have a negative impact on the environment if the environment is not completed and restored properly. Harm can be caused to the community by radioactive metals, which are emitted while drilling, if they are not properly discarded. It is believed that for drilling itself, the companies are using toxic chemicals. These need to be carefully treated and discarded. No one is sure if the companies involved in drilling of natural gas are taking measures to protect environment. There have been cases where drinking water supplies (streams, residential wells and aquifers) have been contaminated where there has been intensive drilling. Environmental consequences of offshore drilling accidents can be hazardous.
Flaring of natural gas on the offshore platforms and online terminals is another cause of harm to the environment. Air is also polluted while drilling due to the use of diesel powered drilling rigs, earth moving equipment, tractor trailers, pick up trucks, etc.
Government should make it compulsory for the drilling companies to declare the chemicals that they use for the purpose drilling. Also there should be a process of cleaning up after drilling which the drilling companies should be forced to adhere to. These measures will ensure that drilling companies do not ignore the environment in an endeavor to reduce the costs. The public should be educated on the need to test their drinking water periodically. Information on testing of water is available in the website given below.
While the use of technology should be encouraged to harness the natural resources for the good of the people, authorities should ensure that environment in protected.