Natural Gas Term of the Week: Sweet vs. Sour Gas

What it means: Refers to the quality of natural gas upon its extraction. Sweet Gas in its natural state be used with little purifying. Sour Gas contains enough sulfur in its natural state to make it impractical to use without purifying.

See it in action: The gas that shows up at your cooking range or water heater is composed almost entirely of methane but in many cases it comes out of the ground with a number of other components mixed in.

Some of these surplus compounds, like natural gas liquids, are separated out and utilized for other industrial uses. In the case of Sour Gas that sulfur needs to be removed because it can be extremely corrosive, not a good quality for something that has to travel long distances in a pipeline.  The good news, once that sulfur is removed Sour Gas will cook your food, heat your water and warm up your home just as well as its Sweet counterpart.

Want to get into the nuts and bolts of how Sour Gas is refined? Here’s a report by Shell that does just that.

Natural Gas Terms of the Week are posted each Monday, check back weekly to boost your natural gas IQ.

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