Despite their high construction costs, pipelines are imperative for the transportation of large quantities of natural gas. TRANSPORT BY PIPELINE IS CONSIDERABLY MORE EFFICIENT THAN BY TANK SHIP OR ROAD TANKER, WHICH WOULD REQUIRE THE NATURAL GAS TO BE LIQUEFIED PRIOR TO TRANSPORTATION.

At a length of over 360,000 kilometres in Germany alone, Europe’s extensive pipeline network makes it possible to deliver natural gas to end customers’ homes. Every 100 km-200 km, compressor stations regulate the pressure in the pipeline so as to control the speed of the flow. 

FROM SIBERIA TO SWITZERLAND

Pipelines run through different corridors from Siberia, through Eastern Europe, to the Western European natural gas trading companies. The pressure is then reduced so that the natural gas can be fed from the transport pipelines, which have a diameter of around 1.60 m, into the gas connections of end-customers’ homes, which have a diameter of just 3 cm. 

 

Natural gas can also be transported by ship in liquefied form (LNG); this requires cooling the gas to between –162 °C and –164 °C, where it liquefies and compresses to around 1/600 of its original volume. After being shipped, a 125,000 m³ cargo of LNG becomes 75 Mm³ upon its return to its gaseous state – enough to supply a city of 300,000 inhabitants for a year. 

FLEXIBILITY THROUGH STORAGE

Gas consumption fluctuates all the time. Just the difference between daytime and night-time demand can be significant. In countries that require more heating in winter than in summer, demand also increases considerably during the winter. Gas storage facilities are used to balance out these fluctuations in consumption. They guarantee that the supply of natural gas will be stable, secure, and demand-compliant – particularly when that demand is high. 

 

Gas storage facilities are constructed at depths of between 1,000 and 3,000 metres in depleted natural gas fields or leached-out underground salt caverns.