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.

As part of the Strategic Plan to 2023, the Snamtec (Tomorrow’s Energy Company) project continued with the objective of accelerating Snam’s innovative capacity and its assets to take advantage of the opportunities offered for the development of the energy system. The project focused on three areas:

  • energy efficiency in the core business and emissions reduction;
  • innovation and technology;
  • investment in energy transition.

The research and development activities launched in previous years that have been continuing or which concluded in the year and the new projects with potential repercussions in different areas of company operations are listed below.

Gas metering

Alternative instruments and quality measurement – Activities continued under the scope of gas quality measurement to adapt the quality meters installed in the network in order to make it possible to remotely monitor and manage equipment. With regard to controlling the quality of the gas injected into the transportation network, a project for the installation of H2O dew point meters and hydrogen sulphide analysers has been launched and is in the process of being implemented.


Natural gas emissions estimation – The evaluation of methods for estimating natural gas emissions and research into the potential impacts, throughout the gas supply chain, of chemical components present in traces in biomethane is continuing in order to create the conditions for its safe development in conjunction with the European research group GERG (Groupe Européen de Recherches Gazières,

Governance and monitoring of the network and plants

Remote control – In 2019 activities continued 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.


Safety – Initiatives continued for the protection against fire, through vacuum technology, of the plant control rooms. A project was later launched to install similar fire detection/extinguishing systems in the technical rooms of the compression stations.

In the second half of 2019, tests on the surveillance cameras capable of detecting the escape of methanol from the tanks are being conducted at the Ripalta facility. If the results of these tests are positive, this technology will be extended to all facilities where this substance is present.

The replacement of the security management systems was completed in 2019 by installing electronic systems with SIL certification (Safety Integrity Level) at the Brugherio and Settala facilities and the same actions will be carried out in 2020 at the Fiume Treste plant).


Monitoring compression units – In 2019 a project was launched for the modernisation of a telediagnostic system for the compression units through the acquisition of thermodynamic and functional parameters for the future development of predictive analysis aimed at improving performance. In addition, in 2019 a project was completed for the development of a dashboard that collects the main important parameters needed for dispatch for the improved management of the turbochargers.


Electrocompressors – Research for the introduction of electrocompressors at the compression and thrust systems at storage sites continues, with the goal of improving the management of the systems, guaranteeing greater flexibility and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


Trigeneration – In 2019 work was completed for commissioning high efficiency trigeneration plants at the Gallese and Istrana compression stations These systems allow the self-production of electricity with internal combustion engines and the recovery of heat and the refrigeration necessary for the users of the stations. The start up of the system at the Gallese station took place in the last quarter of 2019 achieving an energy saving of more than 65% with further improvement margins following the tuning in 2020.


Treatment systems – Installation of latest generation, high performance equipment with a low environmental impact. The first installation of the new generators at the Fiume Trieste facility is expected from 2020.

Physical integrity of infrastructures

Collaboration with EPRG – The collaboration with EPRG (European Pipeline Research Group, continued. It is an association that conducts research into 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 – The pilot project for innovating the electrical protection system continues. It is 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 2018, Stogit focused its attention on activities aimed at monitoring microseismicity, by upgrading its networks to standards of technological excellence. The experiments, protocols and guidelines for monitoring seismicity, soil deformation and pore pressure were successfully concluded in 2019 at the Minerbio facility.

Maintenance and checking of networks

Revision of maintenance processes – The “Sistema Manutenzione Asset Rete Trasporto Gas” Project (SMART GAS) continued. It is a corporate initiative aimed at improving the effectiveness of technical-operational processes, for the purpose of an overall overhaul of the working processes and regulations relating to the maintenance of company assets, through the identification of the need to develop the professional model of resources and technological tools used for carrying out maintenance operations. Specifically, the Smart LNG design and realisation phase was launched in 2019 for operations at the Panigaglia LNG terminal. The dematerialisation of the archives in the regional units continued through the eDoc document system which will be fully integrated in Smart gas.


Leak detection trialling – 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.


Reduction of natural gas emissions into the atmosphere – The initiatives aimed at reducing emissions continued, with the definition, specifically, of all preparatory activities for the implementation of an LDAR programme (Leak Detection & Repair) for measuring and repairing leaks in Snam plants.


Experimentation with air flyover checks – For the purpose of evaluating the existence of technologies which are useful for the improvement of air flyover controls, trial operations continued 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.

New businesses

Innovative use of existing infrastructures – The work of the Working Party dedicated to sharing information and experience on the issue of the innovative use of existing infrastructures in relation to their capacity to transport (and potentially store) different gases other than natural gas continues, with the ultimate purpose of evaluating the impacts in different areas of the business and identifying practical solutions to the problems encountered.


The following initiatives were also examined under the scope of European associations (Marcogaz):

  • Power 2 Gas: the process through which the electricity produced by renewable sources that is surplus to immediate consumption is transformed into hydrogen to be injected directly into the network (limited to the technically-acceptable quantities) or used for the production of synthetic methane (SINGAS) also to be injected into the network and possibly stored later;
  • Adsorbed Natural Gas (ANG): this is one of the latest technological developments for the storage of natural gas in tanks. The adsorption of natural gas in a porous sorbent injected into a recipient (tank/canister) takes place at ambient temperature and low pressure (25 - 35 bar).
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