Europe's resilience of natural gas networks during conflicts and crises probed with maths

Mar 12, 2014
Credit: Wikipedia

Gas networks in Eastern European countries, such as Ukraine and Belarus are less resilient than the UK during conflicts and crises, according to new research from mathematicians at Queen Mary University of London.

The authors suggest that a decentralised approach to managing congestion on gas pipeline networks could be crucial for security during geopolitical conflicts or natural disasters, for example.

"Natural gas accounts for 24 per cent of energy consumption in Europe*," said co-author Professor David Arrowsmith from Queen Mary's School of Mathematical Sciences.

"Nations are now undergoing unprecedented change in the nature of energy resources and in their increased interdependency on each other for the security of supply."

Hypothetical scenarios that involve the removal of supply or transit countries from the network were used to create a model that analysed how nations and urban areas are affected.

The scientists found that countries in Eastern Europe are less resilient to a variety of crises than their counterparts in Western Europe.

They analysed the effect of supplying Eastern Europe from Norway and the Netherlands, during an imaginary crisis with Russia, and found that only 5 per cent of demand in Ukraine could be met, even if the West lowered its demand significantly.

They also found that Austria would be considerably affected in such a scenario, not only because of it becoming part of a new West-to-East corridor to supply gas to Eastern Europe, but also because of its considerable dependency on Russian gas.

However, the UK would be spared in a short-term crisis with Russia or Ukraine, but would suffer considerably in a potential crisis with Norway or a loss of supply from Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

Co-author Rui Carvalho, Research Fellow at Queen Mary's School of Mathematical Sciences, commented: "Our decentralised control algorithm, which is inspired by mathematical models of internet traffic, manages any disruption automatically, by minimising network congestion in a way that is fair to all parties involved.

"However, to mitigate the effect of crises, nations must ultimately cooperate by sharing access to their energy networks."

Professor Arrowsmith added: "It is a serious challenge to provide informed comment on the resilience of the changing international energy supply and demand networks, not least in deciding the criteria by which governments and energy supply companies should operate for a beneficial distribution of resource.

"The paper is an attempt to develop a framework for fairness of gas network flow and a discussion of networks at a continental level. We hope that the paper provokes serious discussion."

The research paper is published in the journal PLOS ONE today.

Explore further: Shale gas extraction tax-free in Poland through 2020

More information: 'Resilience of natural gas networks during conflicts, crises and disruptions' will be published in the journal PLOS ONE on Wednesday 12 March: dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0090265

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ukrainians protest Chevron's shale gas plans

Oct 17, 2013

Hundreds of Ukrainians protested Thursday against US energy giant Chevron's plans to explore for shale gas, seen as vital to the ex-Soviet country's plans to ease its energy dependence on Russia.

First North Stream gas pipeline completed: consortium

May 05, 2011

The first of two North Stream gas pipelines, due to pump gas from Russia to Germany by way of the Baltic Sea, bypassing eastern Europe, has been completed, the consortium building it announced on Thursday.

Shale not a miracle solution for Europe

Feb 12, 2014

Shale oil and gas have had limited benefits for the US economy and their advantages for Europe will be even slimmer, a French think tank said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Cook farm waste into energy

16 hours ago

It takes some cooking, but turning farm waste into biofuels is now possible and makes economic sense, according to preliminary research from the University of Guelph.

Developing a reliable wind 'super grid' for Europe

18 hours ago

EU researchers are involved in the development of a pan-European 'super grid' capable of dispersing wind power across Member States. This will bring more renewable energy into homes and businesses, help reduce ...

Boeing 737 factory to move to clean energy

Dec 16, 2014

Boeing said Tuesday it plans to buy renewable energy credits to replace fossil-fuel power at the factory in Washington state where it assembles its 737 commercial airplanes.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.