The safest and most efficient method to transport natural gas is by pipeline. Today, natural gas continues to be in high demand due to its consistent low cost, clean-burning, and abundant supply. Because of the increased demand and the inherent reliance on natural gas for energy, the pipeline system that efficiently carries this clean-burning fuel to the end-user is under some very watchful eyes.
The natural gas system is heavily regulated to ensure the protection of its infrastructure and its proper functioning, which enables it to serve millions of customers who rely on this service continuously. The rules, laws, and guidelines regulating the natural gas system fall under the United States Department of Transportation’s jurisdiction and are handled by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). In some cases, new laws added by PHMSA require pipeline inspection, resulting in temporary service interruption while pipelines are being inspected and repaired. In order to alleviate customer inconvenience and prevent service interruption, an innovative idea emerged -- mobile natural gas equipment could supply fuel to customers downstream of the shutdown or directly at their meter.
Mobile natural gas services have been providing reliable natural gas flow to customers since 1998. Existing technology and regulation allowed for the adoption of high-pressure steel tubes mounted to a chassis. This equipment was already being used for several industrial gasses, like oxygen, nitrogen, and helium. Industrial gasses led the way and proved that natural gas could safely be transported similarly. For the next 15 years, this type of equipment and method of transporting natural gas met market needs. As time passed, the market changed, and so did the laws that govern natural gas pipelines.
While the trusted and reliable steel tube trailers are still in demand and fill a critical need, customers needed more natural gas delivered, which pointed to transporting larger volumes of natural gas per load. During the same 15-year period, other industries developed mobile liquid natural gas (LNG) storage and vaporization systems.