Does lower pressure in main gas pipelines mean greater production? Mythbraking

July 09, 2022

I have to make this comment because I repeatedly hear public statements by various officials that the lower the pressure in main gas pipelines is, the greater production must be.

I will explain how it really works.

The flow rate (productivity) of a well directly depends on the depression of the reservoir, that is, the difference between the reservoir pressure and the wellbore pressure.

So, when talking about the relationship between pressure and production, real experts mean a decrease in the pressure at the gas pipeline from the well to the compressor inlet. Thus, by allowing the compressor to work with a slight vacuum, it is possible to reduce the pressure at the wellhead and, accordingly, at the hole, which means, to increase the depression and increase the flow rate — the pressure at the entrance to the main gas pipeline.

In other words, it is possible to reduce the pressure (to a certain extent) only on the low side of the compressor (at an industrial site). Importantly, only piston compressors can work in this mode. If gas producers use centrifugal ones, they need to be replaced.

What do officials mean?

If they do not confuse anything, they probably put forward the hypothesis that reducing pressure in the main gas pipelines will have a positive effect on the compression ratio of the compressor.

However, there is a lot of side effects.

First of all, it is parallel operation of gas distribution stations on the same main gas pipeline, which are set to the minimum permissible inlet pressure. Here, from my own experience, I can say for sure that if it sharply drops or increases, the station will not work, which means that after a certain time, consumers (one gas distribution station may have as many as 50,000 consumers) will be left without gas.

Secondly, it concerns the durability of critical components of the compressor itself, which has permissible limits of the compression ratio, i.e., minimum and maximum pressures.

In conclusion, the trend to maximum simplification and neglect of the nuances of complex technological processes should finally pass away — further on, it will be difficult to do without a serious approach.

Maksym Bielawski

Leading Expert, Energy Programmes

Born in 1986 in Zhytomyr oblast


Zhytomyr State Technological University (2008)

Ph.D in Technical Science (2010)

Ivano-Frankivsk National Technical University of Oil and Gas (2012)

Author of 17 patents and 100 scientific works

Work Experience:

2008 – 2011 — Operator of Gas Infrastructure Units, Controller of Gas Transmission System in Rivne Division of PJSC "Ukrtransgas"

2011 – 2017 — Leading Engineer, Deputy Head of Press-Service, Head of Public Relation Department of PJSC "Ukrtransgas"

2017 – 2018 — HR Director of PJSC "Maine Gas Pipelines of Ukraine", Advisor to the Minister of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine

2021 — Director of Integrated Communications of NJSC "Naftogaz of Ukraine"