A compressor station is a facility which helps the transportation process of natural gas from one location to another. Natural gas, while being transported through a gas pipeline, needs to be periodically pressurized at intervals of 40 to 100 miles (64 to 161 km). Siting is dependent on terrain, and the number of gas wells in the vicinity. Frequent elevation changes and a greater number of gas wells will require more compressor stations.
The compressor station, also called a pumping station, is the "engine" that powers a long-distance natural gas pipeline. As the name implies, the station compresses the gas (increasing its pressure) thereby providing energy to move it through the pipeline. The compressor is driven by a motor fueled by some of the natural gas bled from the pipeline.
Pipeline companies install compressor stations along a pipeline route. The size of the station and the number of compressors (pumps) varies, based on the diameter of the pipe and the volume of gas to be moved. Nevertheless, the basic components of a station are similar.
As the pipeline enters the compressor station the natural gas passes through scrubbers, strainers or filter separators. These are vessels designed to remove any free liquids or dirt particles from the gas before it enters the compressors. Though the pipeline is carrying “dry gas,” some water and hydrocarbon liquids may condense out of the gas stream as the gas cools and moves through the pipeline.
Any liquids that may be produced are collected and stored for sale or disposal. A piping system directs the gas from the separators to the gas compressor for compression.
There are three commonly used types of engines that drive the compressors and are known as "prime movers":
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