Innovation for business development

The Group’s strategic evolution in an increasingly complex and challenging context will require it to rely more heavily on developing innovation and on the good use of technological assets to ensure that it makes the most of what has already been achieved, as well as developing innovative solutions, as a support for and source of business development.

During the course of the year, various research and development activities launched in previous years were either continued or completed. At the same time, some new projects were launched with a potential impact on various areas of corporate operations.



Gas metering

Alternative tools – During the course of 2017 the gradual introduction of instruments to measure the quality of gas alternative to the gas chromatograph on the transport network in order to measure the higher calorific value, relative density and carbon dioxide content of natural gas, was continued. In particular, as part of this initiative, a project for the technological adaptation of the fuel gas measurement at the storage centres was opened, which involves the installation of quality analysers and the automation and remote reading of the main measurement and reserve measurement.
Demand forecast – With the start of the thermal year (1 October 2017), a new model for forecasting transport demand based on the use of the Neural Networks as a mathematical algorithm has come into operation, and which has a Machine Learning methodology to constantly improve the quality of the forecast and manage the large amount of information available. The objective is to improve the quality of the forecast, subject to an incentive scheme by the AEEGSI.
Estimation of natural gas emissions – Collaboration continued within the European research group GERG (European Gas Research Group,, involving other European natural gas transporters and distributors, with particular reference to the project for the evaluation of two methods for estimating the natural gas emissions expected at an international level and of the project for the study of potential impacts, along the entire gas supply chain, of the trace chemical components in the biomethane in order to create the conditions for the safe development of biomethane as a source of gas in the transport network.

Governance and monitoring of the network and plants

Remote control – In 2017 the study of the SMART Tel project was begun, with the aim of analysing the requirements of the acquisition processes and the management of data relating to the control and operation of the network, of increasing its effectiveness levels and identifying the best supporting technologies of the whole remote-controlled process. The “Remote Control Systems Development” project continued in 2017, with the aim of ensuring the technological development of field apparatus and the methods through which they are connected and managed, in order to upgrade the administration and monitoring of the transportation network.
Safety – In gas storage, following a trial conducted on site, a project was launched to install phonometric systems to record any accidental leaks at plants and to enable quick and effective blocking measures. In 2016 installation operations at 6 stations were concluded. The last installation is expected to be completed in 2018.

Physical integrity of infrastructures

Collaboration with EPRG (European Pipeline Research Group) is The EPRG is an association which researches pipeline-related topics and counts Europe’s biggest gas transportation and pipeline manufacturing companies among its members, and of which Snam is a member. This group manages projects (broken down into three major areas: Design, Material and Corrosion) with the aim of constantly improving the knowledge and management of the integrity of gas pipelines throughout their life cycle (pipe manufacturing, pipeline construction and operation).
Electrical protection – In 2017 the pilot project for innovating the electrical protection system was launched, aimed at experimenting in the field of equipment and operational solutions based on the results of the study conducted in 2016.
Geochemical and microsimical monitoring – As regards storage, with regard to the new projects for the operation of deposits in conditions of overpressure and the strengthening of monitoring systems, work continues on the construction and installation of geochemical and microseismic monitoring prototypes. In particular, with regard to the projects for the operation of deposits tested under overpressure conditions, currently up to a maximum of 110% of the initial deposit pressure, we are continuing with the installation activities of the microseismic (surface networks and deep well sensors) and geochemical (surface stations) monitoring equipment.
In 2017, Stogit focused its attention on activities aimed at monitoring microseismicity, by upgrading its networks to standards of technological excellence. Among the operations aimed at guaranteeing high-quality performance, the development of a new automatic data management and processing system called AMPIS (Automatic Microseismic Processing and Interpretation System) is particularly worthy of mention; it has been active since October 2017 and will gradually be rolled out to all concessions.

Maintenance and checking of networks

Revision of maintenance processes – The execution phase of the “Gas Transportation Network Asset Maintenance System” was continued, which is aimed specifically at completely overhauling work processes and regulations related to the transportation network, compression stations, metering and remote control plants. This through identifying of the needs for the evolution of the professional model of the resources and of the technological and ICT tools used to carry out the maintenance activities .In particular, in 2017 the Roll Out of the Asset Implementation and Management systems for the network was completed and the Pilot of the Asset Implementation and Management Systems of the Boost Units was launched.
Experimentation with leak detection – The trial of a system aimed at identifying and locating gas leaks along the transport network, based on the analysis of the pressure waves and the detection of possible perturbations and their propagation time, continued.
Experimentation on air flyover checks – For the purpose of evaluating the existence of technologies which are useful for the improvement of air flyover controls, trial operations were begun on two themes: assessment of the current satellite detection technologies available and participation in the trial operations carried out by ENAV and ENAC on the development of the flight infrastructure in the BVLOS mode of drones.

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