Keeping methane emissions low has always been an important goal of the gas industry, both for safety and for environmental reasons. However, such emissions cannot be completely prevented for technical or operational reasons, such as during maintenance work.
However, the trend is moving in the right direction, with methane emissions falling by 37% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions between 1990 and 2017. Methane emissions generated along the natural gas value chain decreased by 56% across the EU between 1990 and 2017, despite the fact that gas consumption has increased by a quarter and the length of gas networks has also increased significantly. This trend is continuing internationally and nationally. Gas Connect Austria is constantly working to reduce methane emissions even more and has set itself a further reduction of 10% by 2025.
Safety and control during plant operation
Gas Connect Austria attaches the highest importance to the safe operation of its pipelines and systems. The protection of employees, residents and the environment is a top priority. The company takes a number of measures to ensure that there is no undesirable gas leakage. All systems are state-of-the-art and are continuously monitored and controlled. Combustion processes such as those taking place, for example, in the few gas compressor units at the Baumgarten natural gas hub, are subject to strict controls and the most accurate exhaust gas measurements. Any deviations would be noticed straight away and corrected immediately.
Forward-looking projects and maintenance processes
Gas Connect Austria is also continuously working on improving processes to both increase safety and reduce emissions. In the meantime, eight compressor units have been converted from gas to environmentally friendly electric compressors. The remaining gas compressors have emission-free electric motors as a starting device. Every gas drive systems of instruments and valves currently in operation have been replaced area-wide by compressed air or electric drivers, thus reducing methane emissions in this area to zero. For maintenance and pipeline integration work, Gas Connect Austria increasingly relies on recompression and smart plug techniques to minimise gas leakage into the atmosphere.
There is also a pilot project at the Auersthal site, that is also focusing on the reduction of emissions during maintenance work.