White Oil

Natural Gas Production Plant
Natural Gas Production Plant – Edwards Plateau
When traveling on the Edwards Plateau at night there are no lights to be seen. Except for the edges along the interstate highway it is nearly unpopulated. You can drive for an hour or more in the darkness and never pass another vehicle. During the day there are oil field service trucks and crude oil tankers on the plateau but at night nothing.

After leaving the town of Sheffield forty miles behind, I notice there is something lighting up the desert. Because there are so few lights on the plateau the glow looks like a city. There are no cities out here. On a hunch I turn off on a narrow strip of pavement towards the lights. After a few minutes I drive up to a huge natural gas production facility that is literally in the middle of nowhere.

As I get closer the ground starts to vibrate and the noise level becomes intense. This plant collects raw natural gas from wells and liquefies it using huge compressors. There is a row of stationary engines driving the compressors; each engine is as tall as a two story building. They are the source of the vibrations and sound. Liquefied natural gas is sometimes called White Oil. White gold more likely for those riding this petroleum boom.

My goal on that morning was to shoot sunrise along the border. Dryden Texas, my destination, was still sixty miles away but the opportunity to photograph the isolated plant was too good to ignore. I spent an hour walking and shooting and then hurried along to catch the sunrise.

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Author: Ken

Avid photographer and old guy technologist.