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Gas Infrastructure Sustainability FAQ Glossary
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FAQ  
 
   
A. Natural Gas
B. Liquefied Natural Gas
C. Gas transportation and gas storage
 
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C. Gas transportation and gas storage
1. How is natural gas transported from the gas field to the customer?
2. How fast does natural gas move through pipelines?
3. What is a "smart pig?"
4. Why does the gas need to be stored?
5. How is natural gas stored below the ground?
6. I live near a storage site. Is there a risk of explosion?
   
1. How is natural gas transported from the gas field to the customer?
  Because natural gas must cover thousands of miles to get from the well to the customer, its long-distance transportation is the most difficult stage in the whole process. There are two possible means for doing this - by pipeline, or by tankers carrying gas in compressed or liquefied form. Pipelines run not only over dry land, but also across the beds of seas. Tankers are used for transportation by sea when the distances are very large - e.g. compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) are supplied to Europe this way from Algeria, Nigeria and even Australia.
2. How fast does natural gas move through pipelines?
  The average flow rate of natural gas is 8 m/sec (or 28 km/h); e.g. from production fields in Russia it therefore takes about six days for the natural gas to arrive at the Slovak-Austrian border.
3. What is a "smart pig?"
  A smart pig is an electronic device that can be used to inspect the insides of natural gas pipelines. The device travels through a pipeline and transmits images of the inside of the pipeline so inspectors can tell if the pipeline needs repairs.
4. Why does the gas need to be stored?
 

The following functions are currently fulfilled by underground gas storage facilities:

  • Create strategic reserve in case of interruption of supply (particularly applicable to countries with strong imports dependency)
  • Provide seasonal load balancing to meet peak demand (gas is injected to storage between April and October and usually withdrawn between November and March)
  • Enable optimised and economic production of natural gas
  • Enable daily balancing
  • Enable arbitration of gas prices, i.e. commercial optimisation of gas price fluctuations
  • Ensure overall optimisation of system functioning, including facilitation of swap transactions
  • Sustain transmission by eliminating local system bottlenecks or critical pressure constraint
5. How is natural gas stored below the ground?
  Natural gas is compressed and stored either in permeable porous rock filled naturally with water (an Aquifer layer), or in caves dug in layers of salt (Salt caverns). These underground reserves are filled up in the summer to meet high consumption during the winter months.
6. I live near a storage site. Is there a risk of explosion?
  When natural gas is stored under the ground, it cannot catch fire as there is no oxygen. However, in surface facilities, very strict safety rules are applied to eliminate any risk of inflammation (ban on smoking and using spark-producing devices, etc.).