90 YEARS SINCE THE CONSTRUCTION OF EUROPE’S FIRST NATURAL GAS COMPRESSION STATION
- Written by Dumitru Chisalita, Judicial Technical Expert in Oil & Gas
Romania achieved many historic premieres in the European gas industry, many of them unknown, others forgotten and most of them hidden by the current impotence.
Since 1912, Dr Cholnoky Jenö wrote: “For long and high-capacity pipelines, it was found that the artificial increase of gas pressure was more economic than the increase in the diameter of the pipeline. In the United States the increased artificial gas pressure had been used since 1890. But if gas compression stations are used at the points where the pressure drops, smaller diameter pipes, therefore cheaper, may also be used,” he said, referring to the construction of natural gas pipelines in Transylvania.
The discovery of natural gas, followed by the awareness of their advantages, led to a high consumption during 1915-1924, which attracted the fall of the natural gas pressure in the Sarmasel field. Besides the increase in methane gas consumption and the reduction of drilling, during this period, the necessity of gas compression for supplying the city of Turda was obvious. Thus, on May 19, 1927, works began on the construction of a gas compressing station at Sarmasel, equipped with three Ingersoll Rand (US) horizontal compressors, with 360 mm diameter cylinders, powered by two steam machines with 360 mm diameter cylinders. The power of an aggregate was of 124-250 hp, for 67-135 rotations/min. The capacity of the compression station, for a suction pressure of 3-4 bars and a discharge pressure of 7 atm, was of 4,000 cubic meters/hour.
The compression station included the compressor plant, the power plant, the fuel gas metering station, the water cooling tower and other administrative annexes.
The power plant included two Crossley motors and Siemens-Schuckart generators. The boiler that produced steam for compressors also produced steam to drive the generators of electric power both for the operation of the compression station and for the engines that pumped water at Balda water pumping station.
The cooling of the engine and compressor parts was made by circulating the water that was brought from Balda, where in 1927 an artificial lake had been built. The pumped water from the Balda Pumping Station was headed to the 500-cubic meter basin, located near the compression station where the water compressor station was powered.
The water cooling tower, also built during May-August 1927, had a capacity of 60 cubic meters.
This was the first gas compression station in Europe, built by SONAMETAN company. It wasn’t the only premiere in the European history of natural gas compression, SONAMETAN put into operation the first gas compression station mounted on a transmission pipeline in Romania in 1947 and the first gas compression station using turbines mounted on a gas pipeline.