Pipeline Jargon

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Meter stations – Virtually all commodities are measured when sold. Products being moved through a pipeline are no different. Meter stations take readings of the flow and pressure of the gas or liquid in the system. The measurements taken help confirm various aspects of the operations as well as alert operators to the potential of a release.

PIGs – Internal Inspection Devices – Examining the inside of pipelines that are hundreds of miles long can prove a difficult task. Pig launchers make it possible to insert internal inspection devices referred to as “PIGs” into a pipeline. There are different types of PIGs. Some have the capability of cleaning the inside of the pipeline by pushing material through the pipe. Another type of PIG assists with assessing the integrity, thickness and other characteristics of the pipeline.

Storage tanks – Tanks of various sizes are located along pipelines and serve various purposes. Smaller tanks are often associated with separating material from the liquid or gas stream when the natural resources are first produced. Much larger tanks are utilized to store large volumes of crude oil and other liquids.

Compressors – Compressors are used to compress natural gas and other gaseous material so it will travel down the pipeline. Compressors can be located at production sites to assist with the initial production of the gas and at other locations along the pipeline to increase the flow of gas as it travels to various delivery points.

Pump stations – Liquids cannot be compressed like natural gas. For this reason, pumps are used to move the liquid through the system. Pumping stations are located at strategic points along the system, pushing the liquid and increasing the speed of the liquid as it travels through
the pipeline.

Processing Facility – When natural gas is first produced, the gas stream often times contains particles of water, sand and other hydrocarbons. Natural gas must be of a certain quality before it can be burned as fuel or used to heat homes or in the manufacturing process. To ensure these requirements are met, natural gas is processed to remove impurities or to separate other hydrocarbons. These products can be sold and utilized for other purposes.

City Gate – Natural gas transmission pipelines deliver gas to thousands of local distribution systems throughout the country. A City Gate, also known as Town Border Station, refers to the point where the higher pressure gas is delivered into a lower pressure system of mains and distribution pipes. During this process, the gas is odorized with a smell, most often described as being similar to that of a recently lit match or rotten egg, which makes the gas more detectible by smell in the event a release occurs.

Distribution Mains – A natural gas pipeline that serves as the common source of supply for more than one service line.

Distribution Service Lines – A distribution line that transports gas from a common source of supply to a (1) customer meter or connection to a customer’s piping, whichever is farther downstream, or (2) the connection to a customer’s piping if there is no customer meter.

Customer Meter – The meter that measures the transfer of gas from the operator to the consumer.