Think of a natural gas pipeline as an energy highway. American pipelines transport natural gas from nearly 275,000 gas wells in various production areas of the country over hundreds or thousands of miles to customers in cities, towns and industrial facilities.
The gas is compressed when it comes out of the wells, and this compression helps it move at about 15 miles per hour through the pipes. Though the friction of the gas against the pipes slows it down at some points along the way, the pipelines operate compressor stations at points about 75 miles apart along the route to compress the natural gas and then push it along. The natural gas in a pipeline is roughly the same temperature as the earth around the pipeline, though the periodic compression can increase the temperature for a short distance.
The gas moves relatively quietly on its journey through the pipeline system. The only noise comes at the compressor stations, whose motors generate the equivalent noise of a plane engine. To minimize noise, compressor stations, which are about the size of a barn, are insulated and operate under federal regulations and specifications. Natural gas is delivered to local gas distribution companies (LDCs), which in turn distribute the gas to homes, businesses and factories. Pipelines also deliver gas to end-users, such as electric generators.