The transport

The long distance transport of natural gas started in 1958 when natural gas was imported from Canada into the U.S. At present natural gas is transported in the gaseous state through gas pipelines, else by means of natural gas carriers in the liquid state (Liquefied Natural Gas).
Gas pipelines allow the transport of a large quantity of natural gas directly from the place of production to the place of consumption without any loading or storing operation.
After the safest and more effective route is identified, a trench is dug to lay previously welded together steel pipes. To prevent any leak, each welding is x-rayed to check it is perfect. To prevent corrosion, the pipe is covered by a layer of bitumen, tar and synthetic resins and protected by means of dedicated electronic devices. Finally, the gas pipeline is buried and the landscape is restored. The presence of the gas pipeline is signalled by special signs. Every 100/200 km compression stations are installed to restore a sufficient pressure to make the natural gas move at a speed of 20-30 km/h. Gas pipeline networks also comprise storage stations where the natural gas is kept available in case of emergency. Depleted fields near the place of consumption are preferably used as deposits. Their geological features ensure maximum safety against possible leaks.
The whole of Europe is crossed by long gas pipelines that run underground. In this way the landscape is not spoilt.
When resorting to gas pipelines is impossible – because the distance to be bridged is excessive or an excessively long sea route needs to be covered – natural gas is liquefied and transported by LNG carriers.
At present 25% of natural gas is transported via LNG carriers. Natural gas is liquefied at –161°C and its volume is reduced by 600 times as compared to the original natural gas. A LNG carrier on average carries 130,000 m3 of liquefied natural gas, i.e. 78 million cubic metres in the gaseous state. Transport costs are higher in the case of LNG carrier is because different transhipments are necessary. The first takes place from the field to the coast via a gas pipeline. Then the gas is liquefied and loaded onto an LNG carrier equipped with heat proof tanks. Finally, after it has been unloaded from the LNG carrier it is turned into gas and conveyed into the gas pipeline. During the maritime transport part of the natural gas evaporates and contributes to keep the temperature low, part of it is used as fuel for the LNG carrier itself.

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