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6.1.1: Types of Gas Pipelines

  • Page ID
    15658
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    Essentially, three major types of pipelines occur along the transportation route: gathering lines, the interstate pipeline, and the distribution system. Gathering lines are small-diameter pipelines (2–20 inches) that move natural gas from the wellhead to a natural gas processing facility or an interconnection with a larger mainline pipeline. Transmission pipelines are wide-diameter (20–48 inches), long distance pipelines that transport natural gas from producing areas to market areas. Interstate pipelines are 8-24 inches in diameter and carry natural gas across state boundaries—in some cases, clear across the country.

    Intrastate natural gas pipelines operate within state borders and link natural gas producers to local markets and the interstate pipeline network. Although an intrastate pipeline system is defined as one that operates totally within a state, an intrastate pipeline company may have operations in more than one state. As long as these operations are separate—that is, they do not physically interconnect—they are considered intrastate and are not jurisdictional to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

    The type of pipeline—whether it’s a gathering line or interstate transmission line—placed on a landowner’s property, influences the amount of surface disturbance (i.e., larger areas are disturbed when installing larger diameter pipelines) and determines whether eminent domain is possible and who provides regulatory oversight.

    Natural Gas Liquids Pipeline

    Natural gas production in parts of the Appalachian basin, especially in western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, are rich in natural gas liquids such as ethane, propane, and butane. These liquids are generally separated from the natural gas stream and shipped in dedicated natural gas liquids pipelines. Within the federal regulatory framework, natural gas liquids pipelines fall under the Interstate Commerce Act and are regulated the same as oil pipelines. This means that proposed gas liquids pipelines do not go through the FERC review process and, importantly, do not receive federal eminent domain authority. Natural gas pipelines, on the other hand, are covered by the Natural Gas Act and go through the FERC process. The key factor in determining which regulations are followed is whether or not the product is liquid at standard pipeline pressures.

    Check Your Understanding

    Q1:

    True or False: An intrastate pipeline system is one that operates totally within state borders, that links natural gas producers to local markets and to the interstate pipeline network. In some circumstances, however, an intrastate pipeline company may have operations in more than one state. As long as these operations do not physically interconnect they are considered intrastate and are not jurisdictional to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

    Answer

    True

    Q2:

    What differentiates gathering lines, distribution lines, and transmission lines?

    Answer
    • Gathering lines are small-diameter pipelines (2–20 inches) that move natural gas from the wellhead to a natural gas processing facility or an interconnection with a larger mainline pipeline.
    • Transmission pipelines are wide-diameter (20–48 inches), long distance pipelines that transport natural gas from producing areas to market areas.
    • Interstate transmission pipelines are 8-24 inches in diameter and carry natural gas across state boundaries—in some cases, clear across the country

    Q3:

    True or False: Natural gas liquids such as ethane, propane, and butane and natural gas (methane) flow through the same pipelines.

    Answer

    False: Natural gas liquids are generally separated from the natural gas stream and shipped in dedicated natural gas liquids pipelines. Within the federal regulatory framework, natural gas liquids pipelines fall under the Interstate Commerce Act and are regulated the same as oil pipelines. This means that proposed gas liquids pipelines do not go through the FERC review


    6.1.1: Types of Gas Pipelines is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Marcellus Matters via source content that was edited to conform to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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