How is Natural Gas Refined?

Natural Gas

It’s incredible to think that when you fire up your gas range, you’re burning the remains of marine plants and animals that died 300-400 million years ago! Given that’s how natural gas starts life, it’s not surprising that it needs a little refining before we can use it.

Join us as we explore how natural gas gets from the wellhead to your furnace.

What Is Natural Gas?

The natural gas we use in our homes and industrial applications is almost 100% methane. But when it emerges from the wellhead, it’s a different story. At this stage, it’s called wet natural gas, and it comes from:

  • Oil wells
  • Gas wells
  • Condensate wells

At this point, along with methane, the gas contains natural gas liquids (NGLs), such as ethane, propane, and butane. It also contains water that must be removed.

The Gas Refining Process

As soon as the gas comes out of the ground, it goes through its first process. The water and condensates are removed. It will then be piped to a processing facility.

Removing Acid Gases: Wet natural gas contains acid gas constituents, including hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, carbonyl sulfide, mercaptans, and carbon sulfide. This process, called sweetening, improves its color, odor, and stability. 

Membrane technology separates these contaminants, which can then be used for other applications. This stage also removes the final traces of water from the gas.

Removing Mercury: Activated charcoal is very effective at capturing mercury in natural gas. The partially refined gas enters an adsorption tower and flows through the activated charcoal, which acts as an absorbent.

Final Stages: The gas passes through a process of cryogenic distillation to remove any remnants of NGLs. Methane gas is extremely light and remains in gaseous form. Other heavier gases condense and can be removed. An odorant is then added for safety, and it’s ready for distribution to homes and businesses.

Trust Reddy Pipe and Supply, Inc. for All Your Gas Industry Needs

At Reddy Pipe and Supply, Inc., we have more than 33 years of experience providing quality supplies for the oil and gas industry. Based in Tulsa, OK, our sales and customer service teams are available around the clock to help you. Call us (918) 234-3651 or reach out online today!

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