Industrial Maintenance for Compressor Stations
Transporting natural gas via pipelines is very safe and cost-efficient. However, in order for the transportation process to work properly it is imperative that the natural gas be kept at the correct pressure. To accomplish this compressor stations are needed at regular intervals. Let’s take a look at some key components of compressor stations as well as industrial maintenance needs.
The Components of Compressor Stations
Compressor stations are outposts placed at various regular points along a natural gas pipeline that house the equipment needed to main the proper pressure gradient needed to ensure delivery. The primary component of any such station is the actual compressor unit. While the compressor unit is the mechanism through which gas is compressed to its optimal traveling psi level, the entire system is supported by a network of ancillary components that help treat the gas itself to facilitate its delivery.
- Filters and Scrubbers – Chief among these are the filters and scrubbers used to remove any impurities that accumulate or form in the gas during its transport through the pipeline. Such impurities may consist of dirt, particulates, hydrocarbons, and even water. These elements are separated from the gas and then dealt with as desired by the provider.
- Cooling Systems – Along with filters and scrubbers, cooling systems are required to help prevent damage to the pipeline as grass travels through it. The actual compression process releases energy, which manifests in the form of heat, which then raises the internal temperature inside the line. The heated gas is then forced through the cooling system, thus offsetting the heat and returning the gas to a safe temperature. Mufflers are also placed at certain operation points around a compressor station, helping to reduce equipment noise.
Depending upon the preference of the provider, there are three types of compressor units that can be used to drive the flow of gas through the station. These different systems and their operating mechanisms are listed below:
- Reciprocating engine compressors – These utilize large engines fueled by their own supply of natural gas to compress what is flowing through the pipe by rotating reciprocating pistons housed on the sides of the units.
- Electric motor compressors – Motor compressors rely on a motor to spin a centrifuge which generates the power needed for compression. As its name implies, these are driven by an external electric power supply.
- Turbine compressors – Turbine compressors also rely on centrifugal force to compress the gas traveling through the station. However, these compressors are powered by the actual gas traveling along the pipeline.
Where and How are Compressor Stations Maintained?
As a general rule of thumb, compressor stations are usually located about every 40-70 miles along the length of a pipeline. The internal pressure needed to ensure flow along the line is not uniform, however. It can vary from as little as 200 psi at certain locations to as high as 1,500 at others. This variation can be influenced by a number of factors, including the elevation of the pipeline, its diameter, and the particular topography of the area in which it is located. However, even with the pressure gradient that can exist between various points along a pipeline, compressor station functions can often be automated and/or controlled remotely, requiring very little in terms of on-site personnel.
The Need for Industrial Maintenance of Compressor Stations
However, while the automated functioning of compressor stations offers many advantages in terms of labor and convenience, this lack of in-person controls can present problems to the operational effectiveness of any compressor station. The many systems highlighted earlier that are needed to maintain optimal gas flow through a station require routine monitoring, adjustments, and other maintenance to ensure that they continue to operate as they should. For those companies looking to optimize their costs, having a capable industrial maintenance company to oversee compression station maintenance can be a great asset. Such a partner can maintain the performance of a series of stations independently, allowing the natural gas provider to focus its resources elsewhere.
STI Group Provides Reliable Industrial Maintenance and Services
Given the important role that compressor stations play in the natural gas transport process, it is important to have a service provider that can be counted on to both build high-quality compressor stations and maintain efficient performance of these stations. With decades of experience in both areas, and a reputation for service, integrity, and quality, STI Group is the ideal partner for natural gas companies who need industrial maintenance and services for compressor stations.