National Geographic : 1951 Oct
563 National Geographic Photographer Robert F. Sisson Pans of Bread in Endless Parade Pop Out of a Natural Gas Oven Running three shifts a day, six days a week, the 110-foot range can turn out 4,000 loaves an hour. This baker dumps bread into a cooler trap at the General Baking Company, Washington, D. C . Pennsylvania Limited was stopped one day for 15 minutes a few miles east of Pittsburgh so that President Grant might see a well with a daily production of 15,000,000 cubic feet put on a show. Near Findlay, Ohio, in 1886, a perma nently lighted well shot up such a flame that it showed men clearly half a mile away at night, and it was so hot that 100 feet was the nearest one could approach it. Waste that was almost unbelievable con tinued to a much later time. As late as the summer of 1934 one billion cubic feet of gas were being burned in flares in one field, and many great oil and gas fields in the Southwest have looked like prairie fires, day and night. Much of the waste in the past was due to the fact that the gas produced was found by men who were not looking for it, but for oil. Often the gas was regarded as a nuisance. But as systems for transporting it to market developed, oil men realized its value as fuel and also learned more about the work it does in moving oil and bringing it to the surface. Important reductions in waste have been made in recent years through the joint efforts of the industry and Federal and State agen cies. But loss and waste of gas are still large; a recent conservative estimate is from 11 to 12 percent of production. Sometimes the gas is at such low pressure, or the wells so widely scattered, or their pro spective life so short, that sale does not pay for the cost of gathering and compressing it for market. When vented, the gas is usually ignited at the vents to reduce the danger of accidental fires and explosions, thus creating the spectacular "flares" of the oil fields. Natural gas is frequently found without any oil, but oil is almost never found without natural gas. More than a third of the coun try's gas production comes from oil wells. Gas Nearly Always Associated with Oil Gas is nearly always associated with oil, commingled with it and dissolved in it. In most oil formations there is gas at the top, because it is the lightest; next comes the oil, then water. Gas is the expulsive force, the lift, the res ervoir energy, the power which brings oil to the surface, for oil has no mechanical en ergy in and of itself. The oil is forced to the surface by the gas bearing down upon it. Also there is a cer tain amount of gas entrapped in the oil under pressure; once an opening is made, the ex pansion of this gas helps push the oil out. In the same way when you open a bottle of ginger ale, the gas forces the liquid out.