Virtual Pipelines - Now Entering Reality?

Posted by Matthew Stanton on Tuesday, September 5, 2023

virtual pipeline animation

What is a virtual pipeline?

How can a pipeline be virtual? Well, it may look different than you think. A virtual pipeline is a means to take gas from a source to consumers without a physical pipeline connecting the two points. The gas can come from a source such as a landfill, farm, sewage treatment facility, or food processor and be sold to a consumer distribution system, manufacturing plant, or any site with a demand. At the source, the gas is processed, measured, and compressed into a truck or portable tank skid. The gas is then trucked to the sales point where it is then decanted (unloaded to lower pressure) into a pipeline system.

What is RNG?

RNG (Renewable Natural Gas) is becoming an important fuel in the gas industry. RNG or biogas is abundant and helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions when used as a fuel. Until recently, RNG was just a byproduct and either flared or released into the atmosphere. With tax credits for producing RNG and favorable market value, companies across the US are starting to incorporate this fuel into conventional gas streams via physical or virtual pipelines. To learn more about RNG check out: What is Renewable Natural Gas?

Why is a virtual pipeline important?

Virtual pipelines have many advantages over physical pipelines. For sources such as a small landfill or farm, building a several-mile-long pipeline is not economical, since the volume of gas needed to overcome the construction costs of a pipeline isn’t available. There are also environmental concerns over building a pipeline in remote areas where impacts to woodlands, wetlands, and species habitats are not favorable.

Virtual pipeline systems are scalable and customizable which make them a great option. Processing, measurement, compression, and decanting can all be accomplished with a small skid or trailer. Options for remote sensing and monitoring, fire suppression, and other safety considerations are also customizable.

Are virtual pipelines a reality?

Putting gas on wheels instead of in pipes might sound crazy at first, but virtual pipelines are a reality for natural gas distribution, and they have proved their worth. Virtual pipelines take away the need for consumers to connect to natural gas grids which allows consumers anywhere to get the natural gas they need with a customizable supply when they need it.

If a virtual pipeline sounds like a solution to your distribution problem, reach out! Our team of experts are here to answer your questions about this new reality of what a pipeline could be.

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Matthew Stanton

pipeline engineering team lead

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Categories: Oil & Gas Infrastructure

Tagged: Pipelines  |  Natural Gas  |  Engineering

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