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We Process, Transport & Store Natural Gas

Natural gas processing takes raw natural gas and removes the various hydrocarbons and other compounds to produce pipeline-quality dry natural gas.

Due to rigorous standards, natural gas must be processed before it can be transported. While some of the 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. Once processed, the natural gas may be used for electric generation, residential heating and cooking, manufacturing and transportation.

Natural gas transmission systems consist of a complex network of pipelines, designed to quickly and efficiently transport natural gas from its origin to areas of high demand. Our systems are comprised of interstate (across state borders) or intrastate (within state lines) pipelines, compressor stations, metering stations, valves and control stations.

Transmission pipelines deliver natural gas to local distribution companies, which distribute the product through their regional or municipal networks to homes and businesses for heat and energy, and increasingly deliver it to power generators and industrial complexes.

Spectra Energy's natural gas operations include approximately 19,000 miles of interstate transmission pipelines. Our enviable footprint across North America provides us the ability to serve demand markets with regional supply while also providing important interconnections to move supply to additional markets.

A key component of the natural gas network is storage. Storage helps balance supply and demand for natural gas. The volume of natural gas that can travel through pipelines each day is fixed, but demand for natural gas varies depending upon electric generation, residential, manufacturing and transportation needs. During periods when the need for natural gas is not as high, natural gas supplies are stored. When demand increases, the supplies are put back into the interstate pipeline network for delivery. These storage systems provide the flexibility to access supplies when they are needed.

Spectra Energy owns and operates three types of storage solutions:  depleted reservoirs, salt caverns and liquefied natural gas storage solutions.

Depleted reservoirs (or pools) in our eastern North America market area are used as storage facilities by injecting natural gas back into the porous underground rock that once held the fuel before it was produced.

Spectra Energy owns the Accident Storage Field near the town of Accident, Maryland, and partially owns the Pennsylvania fields near Oakford (50%) and Leidy (25%). The proximity of these storage fields to our shippers provides a great deal of flexibility. The depleted reservoirs in use at Accident, Oakford and Leidy allow for "one turn" per year (an injection and withdrawal cycle that takes 12 months).

Our Union Gas storage facility at Dawn, Ontario, is North America's second-largest. It, too, is a depleted reservoir but the porosity of its geologic formation allows for more than one turn per year. In total, Spectra Energy's depleted reservoir working gas storage capacity is about 235 Bcf.

Salt is impermeable and self-sealing, so it creates exceptionally strong and environmentally sound storage. Our salt caverns can extend more than 1,000 feet underground. In fact, their vertical height can be greater than a major skyscraper is tall. 

Spectra Energy owns three salt storage facilities, one in Liberty County, Texas (Moss Bluff), one in Acadia Parish, Louisiana (Egan), and one in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana (Bobcat). These facilities are equipped with bi-directional interconnects to major pipelines serving the Gulf Coast, Midwest, Southeast & Northeast U.S. markets. 

We also use a bedded salt formation in southwest Virginia for natural gas storage. The bedded salt beneath the Saltville facility allows for caverns not as deep as those in Texas and Louisiana, but wider. 

In total, Spectra Energy has more than 65 Bcf of salt cavern working gas storage capacity.

Spectra Energy operates a LNG storage facility near Kingsport, Tennessee, and another near Hagar, Ontario. Both of these facilities have the capacity to store about 1 Bcf each for shippers seeking peak day services.