Natural gas or methane gas is a hydrocarbon that is composed mainly of methane -CH4- and is extracted from subway deposits. It is gaseous at ambient temperature and pressure, which makes it easier to extract, transport and use.
This fuel is considered the cleanest source of energy, compared to the extraction of other fossil fuels such as oil or coal, as it produces fewer emissions of carbon dioxide and other substances that pollute the environment.
Natural gas in Colombia is used in several sectors, including electricity generation, industrial production, residential consumption, and use in vehicle fuels.
The National Hydrocarbons Agency -ANH- indicates that natural gas is a non-renewable energy; however, it is one of the least aggressive fuels, since it is fossil, colorless, odorless and non-toxic.
Where and how is natural gas extracted?
Natural gas is a fuel that has accumulated over millions of years in the earth, as a result of the anaerobic decomposition -without oxygen- of plant and animal remains.
Methane gas, on the other hand, is generally extracted by drilling the earth until the deposits are found, the discovery is made through complex geological studies that can take several years.
The Ministry of Mines and Energy in its web page notes that in Colombia there are two ways of extracting natural gas, which are conventional and non-conventional extraction.
Conventional gas extraction
Conventional natural gas extraction involves large subway drilling, where the natural gas is trapped in permeable rock formations.
The gas extracted from these wells is subjected to a dehydration and separation process, where liquids and impurities are removed before being transported through pipelines to processing plants. In these plants, the gas is treated and passes through several filters, where carbon dioxide, nitrogen and other unwanted components are removed to obtain a high quality gas.
Non-conventional gas extraction
During the last few years, Colombia has adapted the extraction of natural gas, through the technique known as 'fracking' or hydraulic fracturing, the use of this technique involves drilling deep wells and injecting water, sand and various chemicals at high pressure to fracture the rock and release the gas trapped in shale formations -shale rocks-.
This method of natural gas extraction has generated widespread controversy, with environmental and social sectors arguing that the implementation of fracking may have negative impacts on water resources, the environment and people's health.
The future of the gas market in Colombia
ALEJANDRA HERNÁNDEZ TORRES
EDITORIAL STAFF ALCANCE DIGITAL