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Natural gas and oil have a great deal in common, but many people don’t know what the differences are between them. Both are hydrocarbons that are formed from the remains of dead plants and animals over the course of millennia. A hydrocarbon is a molecule that contains hydrogen and carbon. Both oil and gas are forms of energy that are non-renewable. Oil and gas are both lighter than water, which is normally found in rock formations. Therefore, they are pushed upwards until they collect in reservoirs.

Economic Differences

Economically, oil and natural gas have always had a close relationship. Companies involved in oil are frequently also involved in natural gas. While drilling for oil, it’s common to discover natural gas reserves. Consumers historically have gone switched from one to the other as prices have changed. In more recent years, natural gas has come down in price due to discoveries of new reserves.

Molecular Differences

Natural gas and oil differ on a molecular level, despite the fact that they are both hydrocarbons. Oil is highly viscous and dense, while natural gas is the opposite. Natural gas is made up of mostly methane, which is the simplest hydrocarbon. This is actually advantageous because it makes it easier to process and refine for use commercially. Oil, on the other hand, is composed of complex hydrocarbons. Different oil deposits will have a different chemical make-up, which is difficult when it comes to refining. Unlike natural gas, obviously, oil is a liquid at room temperature. However, its viscosity can vary greatly.

Application Differences

Oil and natural gas also differ when it comes to the way they are used. Natural gas is used more often for heating, generating power, and industrial purposes. Oil is used for gasoline, fuel oil, asphalt, as well as the production of various products like plastic. Gas is a great choice as a fuel source since it gives off a great deal of light and heat. However, unlike other fuels like coal and oil, it doesn’t give off smoke and burns much brighter and cleaner. Gas is also safer, more reliable to transport, and generally more environmentally-friendly. While both oil and gas are used for heating, it’s cheaper to rely on natural gas. This has led to natural gas winning out when it comes to general industrial usage.