Gas transmission system in Russia:

  • 170.7 thousand km of gas trunklines and branches
  • 250 gas pipeline compressor stations with 45.9 million kW in capacity
  • 22 underground gas storage facilities

How is gas transported in Russia? What is the Unified Gas Supply System of Russia?

Gas transmission networks in CIS and Europe
Gas transmission networks in CIS and Europe

Natural gas produced in Russia is pumped into gas trunklines, the most part of which are integrated into the Unified Gas Supply System (UGSS) of Russia. The UGSS is owned by Gazprom and it is the largest gas transmission system in the world. It is a unique complex of gas extraction, processing, transmission, storage and distribution facilities. The UGSS provides for a continuous cycle of gas supply from the wellhead to the end user.

Owing to centralized management, considerable ramification and parallel transmission routes, the UGSS has a substantial reliability margin and is capable of uninterrupted gas supplies even during seasonal peak load periods. The gas transmission system in Russia is 170.7 thousand km long. 250 compressor stations with gas compressor units totaling 46.1 million kW in capacity are used for gas transmission. The year 2014 saw the commissioning of about 1,277 km of gas trunklines and branches.

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How is the gas pipeline operational reliability ensured?

Gas trunkline structure by lifetime (as of December 31, 2014)
Gas trunkline structure by lifetime (as of December 31, 2014)

In the 1970s and 1980s, when the gas transmission system was built, Gazprom provided it with a substantial reliability margin. Owning to upgrading and retrofitting of the gas transmission system as well as timely repairs of gas pipelines, the number of breakdowns since 2002 has been reduced by more than five times. Fewer breakdowns stem directly from the use of progressive gas transmission system inspection techniques and scheduled preventive maintenance operations, which enable efficient detection of worn out sections and obsolete equipment.

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What is the capacity of Gazprom’s gas transmission system? Is it necessary to boost the throughput?

The Unified Gas Supply System is almost fully loaded. For instance, in 2014 a total of 627.5 billion m3 was pumped into the UGSS, taking account of natural gas supplied by Gazprom, independent and Central Asian producers.

According to the existing forecasts, gas consumption in the global markets will rise. For example, the Russian Energy Strategy until 2030 envisages that 885 to 940 billion m3 of gas will be produced domestically by 2030. Consequently, the UGSS throughput capacity is to be increased in order to meet the solvent demand of domestic consumers and Russia’s international obligations in relation to natural gas supply.

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Is it true that Gazprom does not grant other gas producers access to the Unified Gas Supply System of Russia?

No, it is not. Gazprom satisfies all the requests by independent gas producers seeking access to the Unified Gas Supply System (UGSS), unless it cannot be granted for purely technical reasons. The main reason is the limited capacity of the gas transmission system. The interaction between Gazprom and other gas market players is fully in line with the Federal Law on Gas Supply in the Russian Federation, which sets the terms and conditions for granting access to free transmission capacity of the UGSS as well as entitles Gazprom to conclude supply contracts or reasonably deny access. Gazprom grants independent gas producers access to the gas transmission system in case:

  • the transmission capacity is available for the period when the producer intends to supply gas;
  • the input gas meets the required quality level and technical specifications;
  • the supplier has the capacity to funnel gas via supply and branch pipelines to consumers, all fitted with gas metering and quality control facilities.

The requirements for gas directed into the system to be transmitted, and the terms and conditions of access to gas mains are governed by law. In order to simplify access to its gas transmission system, Gazprom improves the Regulation on preparation and issuance of permits for independent entities seeking access to the gas transmission system of OAO Gazprom. OAO Gazprom first opened up its gas transmission system for independent gas producers in 1998.

In 2014 Gazprom rendered gas transmission services to 24 companies not forming a part of Gazprom Group.

In 2014 the share of independent producers in the gas transmission system of Gazprom grew to 121.1 billion m3 (versus 111.4 billion m3 in 2013).

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Independent producers’ gas conveyed through Gazprom’s gas transmission system
Year 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Transmission volume, billion m3 66,5 72,6 81,5 95,8 111,4 121,1
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What is the current gas transmission rate for independent gas producers? Who is responsible for setting this rate?

For independent producers, the rate of gas transmission via the trunklines of OAO Gazprom is set by the Russian Federal Tariff Service (FTS). Before August 1, 2006 a single rate was set for transmission of 1,000 m3 per 100 km.

Since August 1, 2006 a new differentiated rate setting methodology has been used, when the rate consists of two components: a charge for conveying 1,000 m3 per 100 km and a charge for using gas mains (RUB per 1,000 m3), which is determined depending on gas entry and exit points in the gas transmission system.

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What are underground gas storage facilities needed for?

Underground gas storage (UGS) facilities are an integral part of the Unified Gas Supply System of Russia and are situated in the key gas consumption regions. UGS facilities help smooth out seasonal fluctuations of gas demand, reduce peak loads in the UGSS and provide better flexibility and reliability of gas supply. The network of UGS facilities supplies Russian consumers with over 20% of total gas volumes during a heating season and sometimes over 40% during sharp cold spells. There are 22 underground storage facilities in the Russian Federation with the total working gas capacity of 72 billion m3 and maximum possible daily deliverability at the withdrawal season startup of 770.4 million m3. With the account of four UGS facilities in Belarus and Armenia, Gazprom’s working gas capacity amounts to 73.1 billion m3.

On January 31, 2013 Gazprom reached the record daily withdrawal rate in the entire Russian UGS history – 725.2 million m3 a day. The peak withdrawal rate from Russian storages exceeded 40% of gas consumption within the Unified Gas Supply System.

UGS capacity expansion is a strategic objective of Gazprom. UGS facilities created to smooth out seasonal fluctuations are several times less expensive than the respective backup facilities for gas production and transmission. Gazprom expands UGS facilities in order to raise the flexibility and ensure the optimum loading of the system. In September 2013 Phase 1 of the Kaliningrad underground gas storage facility constructed in salt caverns was commissioned.

The construction of the Volgogradskoye and Bednodemyanovskoye UGS facilities, the expansion of the Kaliningradskoye UGS facility and retrofitting of several acting gas storage facilities are underway in Russia. It is planned to start the construction of the Novomoskovskoye and Shatrovskoye UGS facilities along with gas storages in the Republic of Tatarstan.

Gazprom uses UGS facilities in Austria (Haidach), the UK (Vitol owned UGS facility), Germany (Rehden, Katharina and Verbundnetz Gas AG owned UGS facility), the Netherlands (Bergermeer), Serbia (Banatski Dvor) and Latvia (Incukalns). Between 2006 and 2014 Gazprom’s storage capacities in Europe grew from 1.4 to 5.4 billion m3, while the daily deliverability rose from 18.2 to 74.6 million m3.

In 2014 Gazprom went on with the Damborice UGS facility construction project in the Czech Republic.

The working gas capacity of the UGS facility will total 448 million m3 (daily send-out – 8 million m3), thus making it one of the largest facilities of the kind in the Czech Republic.

Besides, Gazprom is conducting a feasibility study of its possible participation in joint UGS-related projects in France, Romania and Turkey.

UGS facilities provide for securing reliable export supplies of Russian gas.

The operating gas reserve in Russian UGS facilities:

  • 2013 – 70.4 billion m3;
  • 2014 – 72.0 billion m3.
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