Natural gas is consumed in exactly the state in which it is found in nature
This means that natural gas does not undergo any transformation process on its long journey from being extracted from gas fields through to the point at which it reaches homes and other consumption points.
The process that natural gas undergoes between being removed from the ground and reaching consumers can be divided into three phases:
- Supply management
- Infrastructure implementation and management
- Wholesale and retail sales
The procurement activity involves buying natural gas at the source. The natural gas consumed in Spain today comes Algeria (40.6%), Nigeria (15.5%), Qatar (13.2%) and Norway (9.4%). The remaining 21.3% comes from a wide range of sources.
Once the natural gas has been bought, there are two options for transporting it to the destination country: it can either be transported in a gaseous state through underground gas pipelines that have no impact on the environment, or shipped by sea as a liquid in LNG tankers.
In its natural state, natural gas exists as a gas. It becomes liquid at a temperature of 160 degrees below zero. This change of state makes the natural gas up to 600 times smaller in volume, making it easier to transport.
Infrastructure implementation and management
This part of the process is affected by regulatory legislation. There are four different stages in this process, from the start to the distribution of the gas on the domestic market.
The natural gas that arrives by sea in a liquid state must be returned to a gaseous state in order to be fed into the distribution network. Upon their arrival in port, the LNG tankers unload the liquefied natural gas at regasification plants, which use an entirely physical process to return it to its natural state.
Natural gas must be kept in storage in order to ensure it is available at peak consumption times and to ensure that supply can meet demand. The Spanish gas system has three underground storage facilities: the old natural gas sites at Serrablo and Gaviota and the storage facility at Yela.
Once the natural gas has been returned to its gaseous state, it is fed into the transport network, which is made up of two types:
- Primary transport network: gas pipelines with design pressure in excess of 60 bar.
- Secondary transport network: gas pipelines with design pressure between 16-60 bar.
The transport network is connected to the distribution networks, or the grid of gas pipelines with pressure below 16 bar, which take the natural gas to its end consumers.
Our company operates in Spain, Italy and Latin America. In Spain it has a 45,000-kilometre distribution network, by means of which it provides a service to 5.3 million supply points in over 1,000 towns through 8 regional distribution companies: Nedgia (Madrid and Catalonia), Nedgia Cegas (The Valencian Community), Nedgia Andalusia, Nedgia Castilla La Mancha, Nedgia Castile and León, Nedgia Rioja, Nedgia Navarra and Nedgia Galicia.
Wholesale and retail sales
The marketing activity involves selling energy to end customers. End customers can be homes and businesses, which use natural gas as power for water boilers, heating and cooking, or industries that use gas to fuel their industrial processes or professional vehicle fleets.
In Spain, the industrial sector accounts for 54% of natural gas consumption, and the domestic commercial sector for a further 17%. The remaining 29% is used to produce electricity in combined cycle plants.