Transporting Natural Gas to Markets
Pipelines are used to transport natural gas to markets. There are more than 50,000 kilometers of pipelines in Saskatchewan.. Most of the pipe used in our provincial pipelines is manufactured in Saskatchewan. Pipelines are buried underground. They are the most efficient method of transporting natural gas. They can work twenty-four hours a day. After the pipeline has been buried, the ground is returned to near-original condition. Usually, you cannot tell if a pipeline is buried in an area unless you see a sign stating that fact. Pipelines are checked regularly from the air and on the ground to ensure that there are no leaks.
Distribution of Natural Gas to Customers
The underground pipeline network extends along the streets and lanes of most cities, towns and rural areas. Pipelines bring natural gas right to most homes and businesses in Saskatchewan. These distribution lines operate at various pressures and range in size from 12 mm to 600 mm in diameter. The smaller size pipelines are often made of plastic instead of the steel that is used for larger pipelines. These plastic pipelines are also manufactured in Saskatchewan.
Storing Natural Gas
During the summer months more natural gas is produced than can be used. During periods of cold winter weather more natural gas is needed to meet energy requirements than can be produced. It is important to have a storage system so that times of overproduction can offset times of peak use.
Natural gas is stored underground in manufactured storage facilities called caverns. Several caverns have been excavated in the Devonian salt beds around Regina. The salt was first dissolved by circulating water through the salt bed. The brine was then pumped out, leaving a cavern. Natural gas is stored in this cavern so that it is available for use during peak times.
Natural gas can also be stored in previously used gas fields. In other words, once natural gas has been recovered from one site, the underground formation is empty. In some cases, natural gas from a new well is pumped back underground, to an old empty well, to be used as storage.