Natural gas is a fossil fuel formed from dead plant matter trapped between rock deposits deep beneath the earth’s surface. Its main component is methane, which is a chemical compound with one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms. Natural gas also contains some hydrocarbon gas liquids and nonhydrocarbon gases. Natural gas formation began millions of years ago. The remains of dead animals and plants decayed and formed thick layers of organic matter that mixed with sand and silt. Over time, additional deposits of sand and rock covered this material and buried it deep beneath the earth’s surface. Pressure and heat transformed this organic material into the fossil fuels we use today. Some of the matter transformed into coal, some evolved into petroleum and some changed into natural gas. The largest countries across the world extract and process hundreds of billions of cubic meters of natural gas annually. The commodity plays a critical role in producing electricity and serves as a source of fuel for homes, industries and governments.