Gas Compressor Stations
By its very nature, natural gas movement must be efficient from producing regions to consumption regions. In many instances, natural gas produced from a particular well will have to travel a great distance to reach its point of use. The transportation system for natural gas consists of a complex network of pipelines, designed to quickly and efficiently transport natural gas from its origin, to areas of high natural gas demand.
To ensure that the natural gas flowing through any one pipeline remains pressurized, compression of this natural gas is required periodically along the pipe. This is accomplished by compressor stations, usually placed at 40 to 100 mile intervals along the pipeline. The natural gas enters the compressor station, where it is compressed by a turbine, motor, or engine.
Operators of gas compressor stations lose thousands of dollars an hour if a critical station is down. By monitoring some key conditions at stations, operators can know when a station is down, and even better when a station is going to go down.
Gas compressor stations may have:
- real-time monitoring of critical conditions sent to SCADA systems via radio or satellite,
- real-time monitoring with alarm backup via cell-phone or landline,
- or alarm reporting only.
The selection of what is monitored and how often it is reported is dependent on the critical nature of the station.
Typical conditions that are monitored and provide alarm notification:
- Compressor failure
- High temperature
- Excessive or low pressure
- Gas leak detection
Other conditions that are monitored for operational needs are:
- Engine speed
- Exhaust temperature
- Separator level
- Flow rate
- Loss of electrical power if using electric motors for compression