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Natural gas compression is a mechanical process whereby natural gas is compressed to a smaller volume resulting in a higher pressure. Because the domestic natural gas pipeline system is generally designed to move gas at increasing pressures from wellhead to end-market, natural gas compression is required throughout all stages of the value chain, including production at the wellhead; gathering, treating and processing; and transportation and storage. USA Compression’s fleet is typically installed in applications in and around gathering, processing and treating facilities.
Gathering systems consist of networks of smaller-diameter pipelines that gather raw natural gas at the wellhead and transport it to central locations for processing, treating and connection with long-haul pipelines for further transportation and distribution. Compression is used along gathering systems to facilitate the movement of natural gas from the smaller-scale gathering systems, through central delivery points, and into larger-scale, higher volume regional gathering systems.
Additionally, at various points from the wellhead to the major transportation pipelines, the natural gas stream is purified to remove other hydrocarbons (ethane, propane, butane, pentanes) and impurities (water vapor, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, etc.) prevalent in the stream. Natural gas compression is also often utilized in these various processes used to purify the natural gas stream, which includes processing (to remove the various hydrocarbons and fluids), treating (to remove sulfur and carbon dioxide) and dehydration (to remove water vapor).
While gathering systems and processing and treating facilities vary depending on the particular production region, size of the coverage area and other factors, large-horsepower compression units are generally required for these applications. As the gathering systems serve as a centralized transportation system for multiple wells, and as processing facilities are usually situated along gathering systems, these compression units also tend to be more permanent in nature. USA Compression generally focuses on these larger compression units characterized by longer deployment cycles.
The fleet of compression units that we own and use to provide compression services consists of specially engineered compression units that utilize standardized components, principally engines manufactured by Caterpillar, Inc. and compressor frames and cylinders manufactured by Ariel Corporation. Our units can be rapidly and cost effectively modified for specific customer applications. Our modern, standardized compressor fleet mainly consists of the Caterpillar 3500 and 3600 series engine classes, which range from 630 to 4,735 horsepower per unit.