NG, NGLs, and LNG ——> OMG

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What is the difference between natural gas, NGLs (natural gas liquids), and LNG (liquified natural gas)?

Ok – I know you want the quick answer – so if you don’t want to know “the rest of the story” :

Natural Gas is Methane or CH4 after processing NGLs from the “Raw Gas” or “Wet Gas” Stream for transportation and consumption.

Natural Gas Liquids are a general term used for the combined components of C2 (ethane), C3 (propane), iC4 (isobutane), nC4 (normal butane), C5+ (Natural Gasoline).

LNG is “Liquified Natural Gas” where Methane (CH4) is cooled to a liquid form to transport (typically on an LNG vessel) to domestic and international markets.

Where does natural gas, NGLs, and LNG come from?

Natural Gas, NGLs (Natural Gas Liquids), and LNG start from reserves located underground. 

The raw energy (wet gas stream) is extracted from a well and brought to the surface.  The wet gas stream has both natural gas and natural gas liquids (NGLs) contained within the gaseous stream. 

Usually, this stream flows down pipelines to Natural Gas Processing Plants.  These Natural Gas Processing Plants separate the Methane (Natural Gas or CH4) from the NGLs (Natural Gas Liquids). 

At the end of the Natural Gas Processing Plant (or Natural Gas Processing Plant Tailgate), the Natural Gas is considered Dry or free from NGLs, which enables the gas to flow to Interstate Pipelines and Citygates – which is safe for consumption after the liquids are removed. 

Fact: Energy Professionals waste HOURs every day trying to find Accurate, Unbiased, and Objective Oil & Gas Analysis.

LNG Vessel

Over recent years, with abundant Natural Gas Reserves being developed in the United States, several LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) Export Facilities have been built and commissioned.  Liquified Natural Gas or LNG is a process of cooling CH4 to a liquid form and holding temperature and pressure so that the energy contained can be transported (typically on a boat) to various international destinations for consumption.

Natural Gas Processing

At the end of the Natural Gas Processing Plant, the NGLs (Natural Gas Liquids) are either loaded into a tank for delivery to trucked markets or into a pipeline.  The NGLs have multiple liquid gas components within the stream:

C2 (Ethane)

C3 (Propane)

iC4 (isobutane)

nC4 (Normal Butane)

C5+ (Hexanes, Pentanes, etc.)

At the Natural Gas Processing Plant tailgate, the NGLs are also referred to as “Y-Grade” which is a term that refers to NGLs (Natural Gas Liquids) prior to Fractionation.  Fractionation is the process of separating each element (ethane, propane, isobutane, etc.) from the other to make it usable in various chemical processes. 

Natural Gas

At the Natural Gas Processing Plant Tailgate, the inlet “Wet Gas” has split into the “Y-Grade” as we discussed.  The remaining “Residue” is considered Dry Natural Gas which is typically at the specifications for pipeline transportation.  

Once Natural Gas leaves the processing plant it travels down Intrastate or Intrastate Pipelines for either consumption or conversion to LNG.

In summary, what is Natural Gas, NGLs, and LNG again?

Natural Gas is Methane or CH4 after processing NGLs from the “Raw Gas” or “Wet Gas” Stream for transportation and consumption.

Natural Gas Liquids are a general term used for the combined components of C2 (ethane), C3 (propane), iC4 (isobutane), nC4 (normal butane), C5+ (Natural Gasoline).

LNG is “Liquified Natural Gas” where Methane (CH4) is cooled to a liquid form to transport (typically on an LNG vessel) to domestic and international markets.

Hopefully, this helps to understand all of these CA’s (crazy acronyms) 🙂

Have a great day!

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