Moving Natural Gas to Market

Natural gas is sent to market through gas pipelines.

Once natural gas has been produced from a well and separated from the water, it is ready to be sent to market. Natural gas is first sent to a metering station at the well site for volume measurement. It leaves the well site through field gathering lines that connect with larger natural gas pipelines. The pipelines move the natural gas out of the field to gas-processing plants. In order to maintain pressure along the pipeline, operators may employ compressor stations.

Metering Station
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Compressor Station
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Installation of the pipelines involves substantial preparation and construction. According to one of the large operators in the Fayetteville Shale region, the steps in siting and installing a pipeline are:

Preconstruction survey this identifies the path that the pipeline will follow.

Permitting permits are applied for and obtained from various agencies. Pipelines extend for long distances and may cross over jurisdictional boundaries, thereby involving multiple agencies.

Clearing and grading Surface vegetation is removed to prepare a working corridor for installing the pipeline.


Cleared Corridor
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Stringing lengths of pipe are placed on the ground surface adjacent to the subsequent installation location. Steel pipe is delivered in joints approximately 42 to 45 feet long, and are covered with a protective coating that protects the pipe from corrosion. Plastic pipe usually comes in rolls for diameters up to 6 inches and in "sticks" for larger diameters.


Stringing Pipeline
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Bending this is done if pipes need to bend to accommodate geographic features or pipeline routing.

Trenching this creates the trench into which the pipe will be placed and buried. Pipelines are usually installed in a ditch that is 36 in. deep. One of the large Fayetteville Shale operators generally installs pipe at a minimum diameter of 48 in. in this area.

Boring where the pipeline crosses streams, roads, or other structures that cannot readily be trenched, the pipe may be bored beneath the structure using a directional boring machine. When crossing large rivers, highways, or other structures, pipes may be run underneath or on the side of bridges.


Pipeline on Bridge
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Welding and X-ray sections of pipe are connected together. Pipelines may be constructed out of steel or plastic pipe. One of the large Fayetteville Shale operators uses plastic pipe while another large operator uses only steel pipe. Lengths of plastic pipe are joined together by an electrically heated fusion process. Steel pipes are joined together by qualified welders and X-rayed for integrity.

Splicing Plastic Pipeline
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Pipeline Welding
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Lowering-in the connected pipeline is moved into the trench and placed in a stable position.

Lowering Pipeline
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Lowering Pipeline
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Backfilling the trench is backfilled with soil and gravel to provide structural stability for the pipeline.

Hydrostatic testing before placing a new pipeline into service, a hydrostatic test is run to ensure the mechanical integrity of the pipeline.

Restoration the surface area along the pipeline corridor is properly graded and revegetated.


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