Natural gas pipeline plays an important role in transporting natural gas over a long distance. Its performance and operating behavior are affected by many factors, such as ambient conditions, natural gas flow rate, operation and control of compressor pumping stations, etc. Better understanding of the performance and behavior of an integrated pipeline-compressor system used for gas transmission will be beneficial to both design and operation of natural gas pipelines.

This paper introduces a novel steady-state thermodynamic performance simulation approach for natural gas pipelines based on fundamental thermodynamics with the inclusion of the coupling between a pipeline and compressor pumping stations. A pipeline resistance model, a compressor performance model characterized by an empirical compressor map and a pipeline control schedule for the operation of an integrated pipeline-compressor system are included in the simulation approach. The novel approach presented in this paper allows the analysis of the thermodynamic coupling between compressors and pipes and the off-design performance analysis of the integrated pipeline-compressor system.

The introduced simulation approach has been applied to the performance simulation of a typical model pipeline driven by multiple centrifugal compressor pumping stations. It is assumed in the pipeline control schedule that the total pressure at the inlet of compressor stations is kept constant when pipeline operating condition changes. Such pipeline operating conditions include varying ambient temperature and varying natural gas volumetric flow rate. The performance behavior of the pipeline corresponding to the change of operating conditions has been successfully simulated. The introduced pipeline performance simulation approach is generic and can be applied to different pipeline-compressor systems.

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