A compressor station is a facility which helps the transportation process of natural gas from one location to another. Natural gas, while being transported through a gas pipeline, needs to be constantly pressurized at intervals of 40 to 100 miles. Siting is dependent on terrain, and the number of gas wells in the vicinity. Frequent elevation changes and a greater number of gas wells will require more compressor stations.
The gas in compressor stations is normally pressurized by special turbines, motors and engines.
The compressor station, also called a pumping station, is the “engine” that powers an interstate natural gas pipeline. As the name implies, the compressor station compresses the natural gas (increasing its pressure) thereby providing energy to move the gas through the pipeline.
Pipeline companies install compressor stations along a pipeline route. The size of the station and the number of compressors (pumps) varies, based on the diameter of the pipe and the volume of gas to be moved. Nevertheless, the basic components of a station are similar.
The Anvil Points compressor station, located on Anvil Points Road between Rulison and Battlement Mesa, is owned by Williams (the same folks responsible for the Parachute Creek spill in 2013). In December 2005, an explosion and fire destroyed a building and was blamed on mechanical failure. This facility has four compressors and a low NOx burner. All four compressors are running in this video. Note the thick clouds of hydrocarbons stacking up in the air above the facility.
This field compressor station is located on Hwy 6 near Rulison, with three active compressors. No doubt it is owned by Williams because it’s located in their gasfield. Hundreds of miles of pipelines lie beneath the ground in Western Garfield County. Because of this extensive pipeline network, there are hundreds of these compressors located all over the gasfields. All three compressors are running in this video. Again watch as the clouds of hydrocarbons billow into the air.
Our friends at Earthworks purchased a state-of-the-art FLIR Gasfinder camera (Model GF 320). FLIR (Forward Looking InfraRed) cameras are used by the oil & gas industry and government regulators to detect leaks of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) specifically because the FLIR has proven highly effective in the detection of hydrocarbon compounds.
Independent laboratory (third party) testing confirms that the FLIR Gasfinder Model GF 320 camera can see the following gases at the minimum detected leak rate (MDLR):
- 1-Pentene – 5.6g/hr
- Benzene – 3.5g/hr
- Butane -0.4g/hr
- Ethane – 0.6g/hr
- Ethanol – 0.7g/hr
- Ethylbenzene – 1.5g/hr
- Ethylene – 4.4g/hr
- Heptane – 1.8g/hr
- Hexane – 1.7g/hr
- Isoprene – 8.1g/hr
- MEK – 3.5g/hr
- Methane – 0.8g/hr
- Methanol – 3.8g/hr
- MIBK – 2.1g/hr
- Octane – 1.2g/hr
- Pentane – 3.0g/hr
- Propane – 0.4g/hr
- Propylene – 2.9g/hr
- SF6 (Sulfur Hexaflouride) – 0.026g/hr
- Toluene – 3.8g/hr
- Xylene – 1.9g/hr
Infrared Training Center (ITC) certified thermographer Pete Dronkers (Earthworks Southwest Circuit Rider) brought the FLIR over to western Garfield County for a day in a gas patch. On March 7, Dronkers filmed several oil & gas sites and facilities from Garfield Creek to Silt to Rifle to Battlement Mesa/Parachute.
Declining oil & gas prices have led to a slowdown in drilling new wells, and some regional cutbacks. As a result, COGCC Director Matt Lepore and the oil & gas industry want to back off any new regulations because they cost money. Of course we would like the state to enforce the regulations already in place — especially the new air quality regulations. But they would like us all to calm down because the impacts will be magically reduced. All of the sites and facilities filmed in western Garfield County are permanent and are not affected by the slowdown in drilling. They operate 24/7. Each site and facility is identified in the videos.
At the recent Ursa community meeting in Silt, Landman Jeff Powers said, “You won’t be seeing Ursa in 2015.”
In a series of ten videos, we show you what you can’t possibly see with the naked eye. What the state and the industry don’t want you to see — the pollution the oil and gas industry is currently dumping into our air-sheds.
This series is brought to you by Earthworks and From the Styx. Please share these videos. And consider a tax deductible donation to Earthworks. Thank you!