The Use Reciprocating Compressors in the Oil and Gas Industry

One oil rig is made up of over 100 different parts, including many air compressors. Compressors play a role in every step of the process, from drilling to refining and transportation of oil and gas.

The two main types of compressors used in the oil and gas industry are rotary and reciprocating compressors. Continue reading below to learn more about reciprocating compressors and how they fit into the oil and gas industry.

What Is a Reciprocating Compressor?

A reciprocating compressor is a type of positive-displacement compressor, in other words. The compressor draws air into a series of chambers.

As the size of the chambers decreases, the air becomes pressurized. Once at a pre-determined pressure, the air is discharged.

Reciprocating compressors use a piston-driven crankshaft to reduce the chamber size and increase the pressure of the air or gas drawn into the compressor.

How Are Reciprocating Compressors Used in the Oil and Gas Industry?

Reciprocating compressors have almost endless uses within the oil and gas industry. Here are a few of the most common.


Oil straight from the ground is called crude oil. Crude oil is not a usable product.

It must first be refined. Oil is separated, converted, and treated during the crude oil refinement process.

Reciprocating compressors compress the converted oil into usable gasses, including the fuel that powers cars, natural gas, and ammonia. Compressors help reach the required pressurization of these petrochemical substances.

Pipeline Transportation

Compressors maintain gas flow in the pipeline. As gas moves along a pipeline, its reservoir pressure decreases. This way, when the gas reaches the consumer, it is still at the required pressurization levels.

Gas Re-Injection

In small and medium-sized gas fields, reciprocating compressors boost the pressure in oil reserves. To mine crude oil, there must be enough pressure in the field.

Compressors can increase the pressure and flow of a field, producing more crude oil mining capability.

Benefits of Reciprocating Compressors

Reciprocating compressor use is so widespread within the oil and gas industry. These benefits make it a popular choice.

Cost Effective

Reciprocating compressors are more cost-effective than some of their counterparts. This is because they use less energy to compress the same amount of gas.

Energy-efficient machines save money. Keep this in mind while shopping for compressors.


It is helpful to have an adaptable machine when refining crude oil into different types of gases, such as diesel or regular gas. Reciprocating compressors are less sensitive to changes in gas composition and density. This allows them to work with many different gases and achieve the required pressures.


Staging a reciprocating compressor doesn’t require long hoses or pipes. These compressors are mobile and can be staged close to their point of use. The less hose, the less pressure is lost in the process.

Getting Started

The oil and gas industry is full of compressors. Reciprocating compressors are one of the most common types. They are used in refinement, pipeline transportation, and gas re-injection.

Reciprocating compressors work well in the oil and gas industry because they are cost-effective, adaptable, and mobile.

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