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Transporting Natural Gas

Pipelines are the safest way to transport natural gas.

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 where it’s needed.

There are three major types of pipelines along the transportation route: gathering pipelines, interstate pipelines and distribution pipelines. Gathering systems consist of low-pressure, small-diameter pipelines that transport raw natural gas from the wellhead to the processing plant.

Interstate pipelines are similar to the interstate highway system, carrying natural gas across state boundaries, and in some cases, across the country. Conversely, intrastate pipelines are located within the borders of one state. This distinction determines which agency will oversee the regulation of a particular pipeline.

 

Interstate pipelines deliver an important energy source safely, efficiently and reliably 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Transmission pipes can measure anywhere from 6 to 48 inches in diameter. The actual pipeline consists of a strong carbon steel material, engineered to meet vigorous standards.

The pipe is also covered with a specialized coating to ensure it does not corrode once placed in the ground. The purpose of the coating is to protect the pipe from moisture, which can cause corrosion and rusting.

Learn more about how pipeline routes are selected.

Natural gas is highly pressurized as it travels through a pipeline. To ensure the natural gas remains pressurized, it must be compressed periodically along the pipeline. This is accomplished by using compressor stations where gas is compressed either by a turbine, a motor or an engine.

Learn more about how compressor stations work.

Valves on pipelines work like gateways. Generally, they are open, allowing natural gas to flow freely. They can also be closed to stop gas flow along a certain section of pipe.

To ensure all customers receive their gas on time, sophisticated control systems monitor the gas as it travels through all sections of what could be a very lengthy pipeline network. To accomplish the task of monitoring and controlling the natural gas, centralized gas control stations collect and manage data received from monitoring and compressor stations.