The history of natural gas as an energy source is quite recent. Actually it was already known in the 18th century. Alessandro Volta discovered methane in 1776 on Lake Maggiore here in Italy. At the beginning it was very difficult to use methane due to its gaseous state. Solid fossil fuels (coal) or liquids (petroleum) seemed much easier to handle. Natural gas that leaked from the first ever oil wells was either burned or simply dispersed into the atmosphere.