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How Natural Gas is Processed

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Purifying Natural Gas

Natural gas goes through a major transformation before reaching consumers.

Natural gas processing consists of separating all of the various hydrocarbons and fluids from the pure natural gas, to produce what is known as 'pipeline quality' dry natural gas. Due to vigorous standards, natural gas must be purified before it can be transported.

While some of the needed processing can be accomplished at or near the wellhead (field processing), the complete processing of natural gas takes place at a processing plant, usually located in a natural gas producing region. The extracted natural gas is transported to these processing plants through a network of gathering pipelines, which are small-diameter, low pressure pipes.

The actual practice of processing natural gas to pipeline dry gas quality levels can be quite complex, but usually involves four main processes to remove the various impurities:

  • Oil and Condensate Removal
  • Water Removal
  • Separation of Natural Gas Liquids
  • Sulfur and Carbon Dioxide Removal
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