How do gas pipelines work?

Le Figaro takes stock of the operation of these gas pipelines at the center of the news as the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines are affected by mysterious leaks. Le Figaro examines the operation of these massive pipelines while mystifying leaks continue to plague the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines. These pipelines were designed to facilitate the transport of Russian gas to Europe.

The gas pipeline is a large steel pipeline that is utilized for the transportation of natural gas in its gaseous form, under pressure, over extended distances, up to 3000 kilometers in total. It is the most common practice to bury the pipe in the ground at a depth of one meter; however, it is also possible to install it in the open air or underwater. “The majority of the gas pipeline network in France is buried beneath the ground. This avoids external aggressions and does not damage the landscape. », explains Ludovic Leroy of IFP Energies Nouvelles (IFPEN).

The gas is forced through compressor stations at approximately a distance of 300 kilometers at approximately regular intervals. These stations increase the gas's pressure, which in turn allows it to continue on its journey. Energy Regulation Commission is responsible for this image.

To put this into more tangible terms, the gas is transferred from the storage areas or the field processing sites directly into the pipeline. After that, it moves through the system at a rate of more than 30 kilometers per hour while being subjected to a pressure that ranges from 80 to 200 bars.

The gas is forced through compressor stations approximately every 300 kilometers, the exact distance varying depending on the networks. These stations raise the gas's pressure, which in turn allows it to continue onward in its journey. These stations get their power from either an electric motor or a gas turbine located on the premises.

Underwater, leaks are more difficult to manage than on land.

After that, the gas is transported to delivery stations, which perform functions such as gas metering, filtering, and even heating. As soon as this phase of the process is finished, the gas will either be delivered to large industrialists or the distribution networks. “According to Ludovic Leroy, who works for IFPEN, “the hose is thinner when it arrives because there is less pressure.”

If the gas pipelines are buried in the ground rather than submerged in water, the situation can be managed more easily in the event of a leak. “If there is a leak in an onshore gas pipeline, there are isolation valves that can cut off entire sections of the pipeline. After that, a new section will take the place of the one that is broken down. This work is very laborious, and it is made even more difficult by the fact that it must be carried out below the surface of the water “. This is especially true for the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines currently under construction.

Read more about Olaf Scholz's search for gas in the Gulf of Mexico here.

In France, the role of gas transporter is split between two different operators: Téréga, which is responsible for the network in the south-west of the country, and GRTgaz, which is a subsidiary of Engie and is responsible for the rest of the territory. It is important to keep in mind that the gas can also be transported through a process known as liquefaction. After going through this process, the gas is then transported by ship in its liquefied form.

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