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Compressor Stations Doing the Difficult Work

Compressor stations compress and push gas from the field where it is extracted or from an LNG re-gasification import port, along transmission pipelines, to end customers, such as refineries, power stations or LNG export plants.  

Compressors, housed in stations located at 40- to 100-mile intervals along a pipeline, run continuously and allow gas to be rerouted into gas storage areas during periods of low demand. An average station can ship 700 Bcf/d of natural gas, while the largest are reported to be able to send 4 Tcf/d of gas.  

Compressor stations also house pig launchers and receivers, which are maintenance and inspection robots,needed to maintain the efficiency, integrity, and safety of the pipeline and station.  

ABB, Siemens and Voith, the top three suppliers of compressors, operate in the oil and gas compressor marketvalued at about $24.18 billion in 2015, which is projected to reach $34.11 billion by 2021, by researchers at Markets and Markets.  

How Many? 

The United States has an estimated 1,200 operational natural gas compressor stations sited along its more than 3-million-mile pipeline network, delivering 25 Tcf of gas to 74 million customers, according to a 2018 EIA report.  

In contrast, the smaller Russian gas pipeline network of 106,000 miles, operated by Gazprom, has 254 compressor stations for gas transmission.

At the compressor station, gas is passed through scrubbers and filters to extract any remaining liquid and solids from the gas stream. To handle the scheduled system flow requirements the gas may be passed through a series of compressors.  

Most compressor units run in parallel, with each unit adding pressure before redirecting the gas back into the pipeline at full pressure. Sometimes, several compressor units are operated serially in order to achieve high pipeline pressure rates before release to the next section of pipeline. 

Typically, compression of gas generates heat. As a rule of thumb, for every hundred increase in psi, the temperature of the gas stream increases by an added 7 to 8 degrees. In fact, most compressor stations are equipped with an aerial cooler system, like a truck’s radiator, to dissipate any excess heat.  To read more

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