Snam is directly involved in several innovative activities, especially to ensure increasing reliability in the management of the transportation of natural gas in Italy. In particular, several innovative technologies (panchromatic and multispectral optical sensors, altimetric laser sensors and hyperspectral scanners) are being developed to monitor the transportation network for external interference and areas of geological instability using aerial surveillance and the digital processing of the signals received.
In Europe, Snam is a member of GERG (European Gas Research Group, www.gerg.info), a group where research and innovation projects can be proposed and shared in synergy with other European entities interested in the same issues with the advantage of sharing costs, experience and results.
For example, 2011 saw the final phase of an experimental assessment of two systems (acoustical sampling technologies) proposed by the industry for reporting and pinpointing in real time the impact of outside interference on pipelines.
Snam is also a member of EPRG (European Pipeline Research Group, www.eprg.net), whose members are entities which transport gas or manufacture pipelines in Europe. This group manages projects (broken down into three major areas: Design, Material and Corrosion) with an aim to constantly improve the knowledge and management of the integrity of gas pipelines throughout their life cycle (pipe manufacturing, pipeline construction and operation). In particular, an advanced model is being studied to assess the impact on pipe integrity of damage resulting from third party interference with pipelines (for this activity, experience and data are being shared with the PRCI – Pipeline Research Council International). A review has also been carried out (validated using experimental data) of models for predicting the ability of pressurised pipelines subjected to combined external loads to withstand extreme conditions. The correlation between the composition of the mix of natural gas and the effects of its expansion in pipelines of a known durability has been analysed, while an experimental study is under way concerning the environmental impact on the residual mechanical strength of damaged pipes.