From natural gas extraction to pipeline transmission, compressors are an essential technology employed throughout production and distribution chains to increase the pressure of natural gas by reducing its volume. Natural gas compression stations are present along many points of the refining and distribution process and perform important roles in many applications.
This blog post, part of the Magnetrol® series on natural gas processing, discusses the need for natural gas compression at many stages of production and explains why these systems are essential.
Compression Throughout Natural Gas Processing
Natural gas compression meets different needs at different points of the refinement and distribution process. At the wellhead, compression allows a low-pressure well to produce higher volumes of natural gas—in some instances, well production may be entirely dependent upon gas compression. In natural gas processing plants, intermediate and end product gases are compressed to facilitate gathering and processing operations.
In pipeline transport of purified natural gas, compression stations ensure the movement of gas from the production site to the consumer. As the gas moves through the pipeline, it will naturally lose pressure due to distance and friction. Natural gas compression ensures the gas can continue to move smoothly through the pipeline and flow to the customer. Compressors may also be used in association with above ground or underground natural gas storage facilities.
Compressor Setup and Function
Natural gas en route to a compressor first flows through scrubbers and filters to extract impurities and particulate matter. After this, the gas is compressed in a process that introduces pressure into the pipeline. This process generates heat, which must be dissipated from the gas before it leaves the compressor facility. Some compressor stations are fueled by a portion of the natural gas that flows through them, while others are electric-powered.
Level Measurement Considerations
Each step of the natural gas compression process requires reliable, accurate level instrumentation to prevent leaks and accidents, ensure heat is properly dissipated, and separate liquids from the compressed gas. Level measurement can also contribute to the efficiency of the compression process. Components of this process have specific level measurement needs which will be discussed in subsequent blog posts.
For more information on natural gas compression and other natural gas processing applications, download the natural gas processing brochure.