Natural gas is a critical and growing component of energy consumption in the United States. The U.S. natural gas pipeline grid is the link between upstream exploration and production activities and downstream end-use markets. This network is a highly integrated gathering, transmission and distribution grid that transports natural gas from producing regions to customers such as local distribution companies (“LDCs”), industrial users and electric generation facilities. Companies generate revenues at various stages within this value chain by gathering, processing, treating, fractionating, transporting, storing and marketing natural gas and natural gas liquids (“NGLs”).
The following diagram illustrates various components of the natural gas value chain:
Azure Midstream is an industry leader in working with producers to get their production to market by providing comprehensive wellhead and pipeline connection project management. Our engineering and construction group works closely with our customers to develop the most effective and efficient interconnection and pipeline plan to meet our customers’ need for current and future gathering services.
Gathering, Compression, and Treating
At the initial stages of the midstream value chain, a network of pipes known as gathering systems directly connect to wellheads in the production area. Azure Midstream’s gathering systems transport natural gas from the wellhead to downstream pipelines or a central location for treating and processing.
Natural gas compression is a mechanical process in which a volume of natural gas at a given pressure is compressed to a desired higher pressure, which enables more efficient gathering and delivery into a higher pressure processing plant or pipeline. Azure Midstream uses field compression to allow our gathering systems to operate at a lower pressure or provide sufficient discharge pressure to deliver natural gas into a higher pressure system. Compression is also used in the transportation of natural gas to support the movement of gas across pipeline systems and in storage to enhance withdrawal and injection capability.
Treating and dehydration involves the removal of impurities such as water, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide that may be present when natural gas is produced at the wellhead. Azure Midstream removes these impurities so that the natural gas can meet required specifications for transportation on long-haul intrastate and interstate pipelines and ultimate consumption.
The principal components of pipeline quality, marketable natural gas are methane and ethane, however natural gas gathered at the wellhead may contain varying amounts of heavier hydrocarbon components such as propane, butane and natural gasoline. Processing extracts these components, known as natural gas liquids (NGLs), producing a natural gas stream that meets BTU and dew point specifications for long-haul pipeline transportation and commercial use. The NGLs recovered are valuable commodities that are utilized as liquid fuels and as feedstock for the refinery and petrochemical industries. Ethane can also be recovered by highly efficient natural gas processing plants and is used in the petrochemical industry for the production of polyethylene. Azure Midstream achieves the removal and separation of NGLs through a processing plant using industrial processes to exploit differences in the weights, boiling points, vapor pressures and other physical characteristics of NGL components.