Compressors are an essential technology employed throughout production and distribution 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 natural gas processing plants, intermediate/end product gasses are compressed to facilitate gathering and processing. In the pipeline transport of purified natural gas, compression stations ensure the movement of gas from the production site to the consumer. Compression services used throughout the pipeline ensure that the natural gas maintains a consistent and safe pressure as it travels. Natural gas transportation companies are constantly looking for ways to optimize reliability, availability and efficiency, while minimizing costs. Improving station efficiency is good for the bottom line. The payback for facility optimization is a motivating factor. Production can be optimized in many different ways, one of which is using small horsepower compression. 

What is a compressor?

In the oil and gas industry, a compressor is a mechanical device that reduces the volume of a liquid or gas to increase its pressure. It’s used at processing plants, field nodes and inlets of the pipeline. Hydraulic compressors are powerful and lightweight deck-mounted compressors used for low-volume and high differential pressure applications such as vapour recovery, gas well boosting and casing gas. Reciprocating compressors are widely used in the chemical, oil, and gas industries for moving compressible fluids reliably. Compressors are a necessary part of almost every oilfield operation. For natural gas wells, compression is used to boost wellhead flowing pressure to pipeline intake pressure. Compressor equipment is part of a system of separators, de-sanders, heaters (or coolers), dehydrators, expanders and/or sulphur recovery stages that treat the gas and make it suitable for pipeline intake. 

What is meant by natural gas compression?

Natural gas compression is a mechanical process whereby natural gas is compressed to a smaller volume resulting in higher pressure. The natural gas pipeline system is designed to move gas at increasing pressures from the wellhead to end market. Natural gas compression is required throughout all stages, including production at the wellhead (gathering, treating and processing) and transportation and storage. 

Why is natural gas compression important?

Pressure plays an important role as it’s necessary to move gas from the field through the gas plant and into the gas line. It also provides cooling for gas, lowering the temperature. As the gas moves through a pipeline, it naturally loses pressure due to distance and friction (pipe roughness, changing pipe size, valve restrictions, presence of water/fluids/dirt). Compression ensures the gas can continue to move smoothly through the pipeline and flow to the customer. Operators of natural gas compression facilities focus on operating and maintenance costs while maintaining or enhancing reliability and efficiency. They attempt to obtain the most efficient and profitable operation from existing compression equipment. Determining the optimum operating pressure is a challenging task. Operators study the effects of pressure on recovery and the benefits vs. costs of compression. By tracking the pressure drop from one location to another, pipeline efficiency can be measured indirectly. 

The advantages of using small horsepower compression:

The purpose of a compression facility is to increase gas pressure so it flows down the pipeline. The benefits of using small horsepower compression include:

  • Reduced costs: Minimizing the horsepower required to compress the gas improves a company’s bottom line via reduced fuel costs, lowering operating expenses and decreasing maintenance costs.
  • Improved throughput: Using more efficient compression means more gas can be moved with the same horsepower, improving throughput.
  • Reduced need for equipment: When more gas is pumped using the same horsepower, there is a reduced need to add new and/or more powerful equipment. 

In today’s complex energy landscape, oil and gas operators must find innovative new ways to improve operational efficiency and reduce capital expenses. Small horsepower compression is useful for well optimization. At a compression ratio of 1.5, the horsepower required to pump 300 MMcf (one million cubic feet of gas) can be reduced by 1,719 bhp (break horse power) with an improved combined efficiency of 12%. This improvement results in annual savings of approximately $193,200.

Interested in well optimization? Contact Gaspro Compression Corp. We have a focused team that takes pride in their work. We strive to provide dependable products and prompt service to all clients. We offer a wide range of services and solutions that are designed to eliminate bottlenecks and maximize productivity in oil and gas refining facilities. We’re continually improving and innovating our products to meet changing industry demands. Gaspro is a leading provider of compressor packages in Canada. Contact us to request a proposal.