Midstream Oil and Gas: How Gas Gathering Works

Natural Gas Inter/Intrastate Pipelines

Natural Gas Inter/Intrastate Pipelines, Map from EIA

There are approximately 580,000 wells around the United States currently producing oil and gas.

In order to get these energy resources from the wells to end users around the country, infrastructure is required. This is the area of the industry midstream companies fill.

Midstream oil and gas companies construct vast, far-reaching networks of pipelines, storage facilities, compressor stations, and processing equipment to get raw natural gas from the field to the retail and utility markets.

Gas Gathering

First, upstream oil and gas companies drill, complete, and produce a well. Then they separate resources using equipment like separators and heater treaters.

They send the oil to on-site tank batteries, where downstream companies retrieve it for further refining and then retail.

Meanwhile, midstream piping collects natural gas.

The Midstream sector of the oil and gas industry involves three primary areas: gathering, processing, and storage. The first step in the midstream process is gas gathering.

Oil and gas producers are scattered in energy fields throughout producing regions.  Midstream companies lay piping from their processing facilities to these producing fields.

These are typically small diameter, low-pressure pipes that connect to larger mainline pipelines and eventually to natural gas processing plants. These lines tie in near the well head. Companies use metering skids to measure the gas as it changes hands from the upstream producer to the midstream company.

Midstream companies use compressor stations along these pipelines, located at intervals of 40-100 miles, to re-compress the gas allowing it to continue downstream to gas refineries.

In order to knock out natural gas liquids (NGLs) gas refineries process the gas. This is the foundational ingredients for petrochemical feedstock, blendstock for gasoline, and a wide array of consumer products.

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