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The NS1 and NS2 sabotage impact potential

By Jorge Vilches and originally written for The Saker Blog.  (In future, we will cross post)

It´s valid to assume that the provoked NATO-Anglo-WEF-Ukraine war objectives were (1) to trigger regime change in Russia aided by military defeat while also (2) cutting Europe off Russia´s cheap and excellent resources thus also (3) choking Russia´s exports and funding. Sanctions, asset seizures and the NS1 & NS2 sabotage are smoking guns. Future consequent plundering of parts of Europe and Russia can also be assumed to be goal #4. The European leadership at large has, so far, aligned well with this plan.

Antony Blinken

Despite decades-long experience and specific expertise in international security matters, Antony Blinken is – on record – surprisingly wrong on a matter of utmost importance. He may possibly not care much yet – but surely will eventually — per the international “Overton window” most specially in Europe and the US. In reference to the NS1 and NS2 pipelines sabotage the sitting US Secretary of State video tweeted that (a)…”it´s no one´s interest”… (b) ….it “has no impact on European energy resilience”… (c)…is a “tremendous opportunity” to wean Europe off of Russian energy… (d) now the US has become “the leading supplier (of fracked sea-borne LNG) to Europe.” Ref #1 https://www.state.gov/secretary-antony-j-blinken-and-canadian-foreign-minister-melanie-joly-at-a-joint-press-availability/

Ref #2 https://twitter.com/reuters/status/1574853885382037505 Ref #3 https://www.rt.com/news/563861-blinken-nord-stream-opportunity/

For starters, any level-headed individual with an IQ higher than room temperature knows that the sabotage at hand is necessarily in the best interest of the perpetrators´ agenda… or otherwise they would have never taken the enormous risk and trouble to plan and execute such a sophisticated crime …let alone upon helpless civilians. BTW, stakeholders and analysts from the EU and NATO confirm and re-confirm that to swiftly perpetrate such an effective sabotage (as is the case) it forcefully required some “state(s) sponsorship”. So, point (a) above is clearly plain wrong as this sabotage certainly is (1) in the best interest of somebody which we do not yet know about but that does exist and also (2) there is a clear and required involvement of a nation-state(s) which narrows even further the type and nature of the possible perpetrator(s). Furthermore, statement (b) tweeted above is also dead wrong as the NS1 and NS2 sabotage certainly does have a tremendous impact upon ´European energy resilience´ and availability which will force Germany and the rest of Europe to undergo a thorough DE-industrialization process and sharp lowering of their standards of living.

bad news

For one, as many wrongly imagine, fracked sea-borne Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) is not by any means a substitute of nat-gas. It is terribly more expensive, most explosive & dangerous to handle, and definetly way too scarce to meet European needs. Environmentally, LNG is “fracking” dirty, also very cumbersome to liquefy, load and re-gassify with yet non-existant infrastructure at both ends… and is far more difficult than nat-gas to store and transport (Suez could be a limitation) from ackward overseas sources yet unknown (in tankers that do not yet exist) and to distribute only in risky seaborne batches onto many dozens of terminals not yet built nor adequately planned for. Germany today has 0 (zero) LNG terminals and it will take many years only to have a few with which to cover at best 20% of current needs, or less. More on that later. Ref #4 https://thesaker.is/why-russias-oil-ban-is-impossible/ . Second, all the stored nat-gas reserves supposedly reaching 90% levels are now almost effectively UN-usable for 2 main reasons which were already explained to boring death and intricate depth at Ref #5 https://thesaker.is/the-euthanized-european-nat-gas-reserves/

use-LESS European nat-gas reserves

The first reason #1 is the impossibility of constant RE-pressurization of such “stored” nat-gas reserves in order to maintain the required sub-surface driving force push to produce it onto surface. Now, along broad areas of Germany and Northern Europe the lack of pipeline nat-gas flow will not allow to comply this requirement. Without pipeline nat-gas, at the very best only 25% to 30% of the “supposed” 90% reserves could possibly ever be recovered and only very slowly through a long period of time stretched out many months. The culprit is the mandatory DE-pressurization whenever such underground reserves are produced onto surface (plus sub-surface losses) with the consequent geometrical drawdown of pressure. With a decreasing sub-surface pressure as driving force ever smaller and slower nat-gas volumes can be produced onto surface or even none at all per circumstances and operational requirements.

The second reason #2 is the current impossibility of now having the much required constant massive surface flow to adequately push along the underground reserves that might eventually be produced to surface if RE-pressurized enough and if all the other requirements are met. This has never ever been tried out by anyone before anywhere near at this scale and without prior notice as later explained. Now suffice to say that the impact will be enormously negative and that Europeans are not close to be aware of this. All they get to hear is that “our 90% stored nat-gas reserves will get us through this winter”. No they won´t. And just as a reminder please check out the basic high school physics explained below. “Methane hydrates” nightmares will be the new name of the game and it will not be fun, trust me.

Secretary Blinken's Official Department Photo.jpg

high school physics

The problem starts when bureaucratic ignoramuses (politicians et al) dream up the stupid idea that nat-gas reserves can be used as a 100% substitute for nat-gas flowing feedstocks such as thru surface pipelines. They simply cannot, period. Actually, God invented nat-gas reserves as a supplement to – never a substitute of (NOT) – flowing nat-gas feedstocks so that in high demand season (winter) the cheaper nat-gas reserves piled up during the low consumption season (summer) could be added to the main pipeline flow by 10% approx. This would help to satisfy the higher winter demand and also to lower the average yearly cost. Nat-gas reserves are good for nothing more than that and definetly not a substitute of surface flowing feedstocks. No matter how hard they try or how frequently they wear their brand new turtle necks, politicians both sides of the Atlantic will not change that, I promise. Nat-gas sub-surface reserves can never ever be adequately produced onto surface by themselves and can only be ´lightly´ and slowly ADDED onto pre-existing actively flowing surface feedstocks such as pipeline flows nothing more. Anything else is a dream ready to become a very ugly nightmare.

Josep Borrell (49468484246).jpg

Josep Borrell

Russia makes it ‘impossible for the Ukraine war to end’ per the approved referenda requesting the accession of four former Ukrainian regions into Russia, said the top EU diplomat Josep Borrell during an interview with the Spanish RTVE channel. Thus, people living in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, as well as in the regions of Kherson and Zaporozhye, have now become Russian citizens. So, unless Ukraine unilaterally ceases fire onto all of the above — or surrenders, both possibilities unfeasible today — any military action against them will be considered to be against the Russian Federation. Thus, true enough, having avoided Minsk Accords compliance, the Ukraine war cannot end. Ref #6 https://www.rt.com/russia/563884-borrell-war-impossible-end/

CONCLUSION

So, if per Borrell the Ukraine war now cannot end then more sabotage events would probably take place because of the new “tremendous opportunities” per Blinken point (c) above – twice repeated – and surely private business would take advantage of such as with the coming US fracked LNG supplies to Europe per Blinken point (d) above).The big problem is Europeans are not remotely aware of what will hit them flat in their faces, and it won´t be “climate change

David Stockman

David Stockman is a former ´Director of the Office of Management and Budget´ under US President Ronald Reagan. Fortunately, he did not mince words when recently saying “Washington’s dunderheaded intervention in the intramural spat between Russia and Ukraine and the accompanying global Sanctions War is the surely the stupidest, most destructive project to arise from the banks of the Potomac in modern times. And the architects of this perfidious folly—Biden, Blinken, Sullivan, Nuland et. al.—cannot be condemned harshly enough.”

To add some further meat, D.S. unequivocally opined that “After all, this madness is being pursued in the name of abstract policy norms—the rule of law and sanctity of borders—that make Washington a laughing stock. More than any other nation on planet earth (and by a long-shot), it has serially and blatantly violated these standards scores of times in recent decades. Moreover, by wallowing in this unhinged hypocrisy Washington has abandoned every semblance of commonsense as to why this conflict happened in the first place and why it is wholly irrelevant to the national security of the American homeland, or, for that matter, Europe, as well.” …” (This provoked ´war´…) was actually the recrudescence of the manner in which the fake nation of Ukraine was put together during the last three centuries.” …” So we are not dealing with the invasion of a long-established, ethnically and linguistically coherent state by its aggressive neighbor, but with the left-over potpourri of separate tongues, territories. economies and histories that were smashed together by brutal communist rulers between 1918 and 1991.”

David Stockman by Gage Skidmore.jpg

Ref #7 https://www.davidstockmanscontracorner.com/washingtons-pointless-war-in-behalf-of-a-fake-nation/

Ref #8 https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/stockman-slams-washingtons-pointless-war-behalf-fake-nation

what next ?

So apparently civilian infrastructure such as pipelines are fair game in this war then, which means that the Druzbha pipeline could also be preyed upon no ? No Druzbha, no Schwedt, no Berlin, no Germany, no Europe ASWKI. Please allow me to repeat that just in case you were distracted: NO Druzbha NO Schwedt NO Europe ASWKI. What else… Well, ”somebody” could possibly sabotage the Russian Turkstream pipeline just to convince Turkey to be fully on NATO´s side. How about depriving Hungary of nat-gas ? Or sabotaging the Power of Siberia pipeline delivering to China ? Or maybe an attack on the European cell phone system and communications at large ? Half a million European transmission towers would be an easy target no ? Satellites shot down maybe ? Or all sort of critical energy infrastructure including oil & gas platforms, storage tanks, terminals could be targeted. How about distribution and transformer yards and sub-stations ? Better yet would be nuclear power stations. Maybe LNG terminals or ocean-bound LNG freight vessels that would explode like small nuclear bombs. Such as where exactly ? Anywhere ? Like the Baltic or the North Sea and North Atlantic also ? Oh, or in the Mediterranean maybe…Now then, would these highly vulnerable UN-insurable assets be the basis for a thriving export-driven economy ? Norway, Turkey, Italy and Spain have now become very critical stakeholders regarding pipeline delivery of energy feedstocks into Europe.

Ref #9 https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/faced-acts-sabotage-eu-countries-rush-secure-energy-assets

Ref #10 https://www.reuters.com/business/media-telecom/exclusive-europe-braces-mobile-network-blackouts-sources-2022-09-29/

Ref #11 https://www.lemonde.fr/en/energies/article/2022/09/29/nord-stream-faced-with-acts-of-sabotage-west-on-high-alert-to-protect-energy-infrastructure_5998584_98.html

World Bank on European 2023 stagflation

Under current policies global energy production may take years to diversify away from Russia, prolonging the stagflation risk” the World Bank President David Malpass said recently at a Stanford University conference. He added that these shockwaves have hit the development cycle, adding to problems such as debt sustainability and limited fiscal budgets in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Combined with the impact of energy supply cuts in the EU, these overlapping crises could be potentially “catastrophic” Malpass fears.

Ref #12 https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/business/world-bank-president-david-malpass-sees-risk-of-stagflation-likely-recession-in-europe/articleshow/94521138.cms

David Malpass, World Bank Group President (cropped).jpg

David Stockman on European 2023 stagflation

“ Accordingly, the fast-approaching dark, cold winter of stagflationary collapse in Europe is not being done in heroic defense of the grand principles proffered by Washington and NATO. To the contrary, it amounts to the pointless and grubby business of preserving a vile status quo ante that was confected on the lands north of the Black Sea, not by the ordinary course of historical evolution and nation-state accretion, but by the bloody-hands of Vladimir Lenin, Iosif Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev.”

NATO vs. NATO

The European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen confirmed that the NS1 and NS2 incidents were the result of sabotage, also warning that any “deliberate disruption of the European energy infrastructure is unacceptable and will lead to the strongest retaliation.” Good, sure hope at least that means that a thorough investigation will take place soon enough truly revealing who exactly were the perpetrators and sponsors – both materially and intellectually — and thus finally Europeans knowing who is behind their terrible fate, most specially Germany. By the way, apparently NS1 and NS2 are not specifically part of NATO’s infrastructure. If under the circumstances we try to have some sense of humor (!) we could think that so far the attitude and specific EU response has been childishly quixotic at best. A sort of an immature mix between political tai chi and a kabuki rehearsal, very limited and low-key yet but with lots of curious shadow sparring against invisible (and possibly imagined ? ) yet-undefined “enemies” of Europe as if no investigation would ever reveal the perpetrators(s). We shall see… Maybe a NATO member (or members) end(s) up being the actual culprit(s) of this crime, why not ? Politically, strategically and motivationally it´s in the cards… and technically speaking nothing is impossible with access to the latest state-of-the-art under-water technology and fully trained manpower… and owning the Baltic as if it were your personal backyard pond.

Ref #13 https://www.zerohedge.com/commodities/damage-nord-stream-pipelines-unprecedented-may-have-been-sabotaged

Official Portrait of Ursula von der Leyen.jpg

´very scary winter´ says Bill Gates

Bill Gates, the all-time climate change champ – better than Al Gore and Greta put together — has clearly warned that Western reliance on Russian fossil fuels will not abate anytime soon. Europe may face a “very scary situation” this winter says the founder of Microsoft while warning that surging energy prices across the region could mean that people will be unable to heat their homes, amid efforts by some nations to ditch Russian energy without any viable alternatives. Bill “Lolita Express” Gates was asked by a Bloomberg journalist to comment on the “spectacularly bad” prospects for Europeans due to increasingly high energy prices this winter. “It better be a very very mild winter, otherwise the options open are very, very difficult”. Ref #14 https://www.rt.com/news/563845-gates-europe-scary-winter/

 

Head and shoulders photo of Bill Gates

the LNG pipe-dream

We should all thank spontaneous commenter SKovacs yet again for sharing with us a part of his 30-year first-hand deep knowledge of the industry. So hereinafter please find a summary of what this most experienced poster has reported regarding LNG many months before NS1 and NS2 were sabotaged. Thank you SKovacs !!

  1. There is an extreme shortage of LNG tankers, so who would build them, per what specs and costs, by when?
  2. There are is an extreme shortage of LNG terminals at both ends. Europe is extremely bureaucratic, so it will require many years to have a single LNG terminal ready and running if not vetoed by the local council. Meanwhile, a pipeline must be connected from the terminal to the existing grid… with further complications at every level which take TIME. What capacity should these terminals have vis-á-vis the related new distribution pipelines? Nobody can know that today thus adding even more load to timing and technical demands.
  3. Transit times on the tankers change and existing EU southern pipelines are probably at full capacity already.
  4. Tankers are far more costly to operate as liquefied gas has to be kept liquefied re power-hungry refrigeration.
  5. Tankers have a more costly service life than all other bulk tankers, if only for the regulation/inspection requirements which also take TIME. So therefore they are a higher risk with higher cost per cubic meter of gas transported vs. cheap, reliable, safe, environmentally friendlier pipelines to which Europe is used to.
  6. Europe needs dozens of new LNG terminals.The pre-feasibility and feasibility studies have not yet been planned for, let alone detailed engineering, plans & specs, manpower, contracting of engineering expertise,etc
  7. LNG terminal sites have to be carefully chosen, their expensive and cumbersome environmental impact assessments completed (which can take years) with engineering design that by itself can also take years with no room for direct carbon copy of other designs, plus ground preparation construction which would take 1-2 years + manufacturing of plant and modules (usually in Korea and China, but would they now agree ? ) all of which need contracts, schedules, materials, etc, lots of TIME and shipping + certification & commissioning.
  8. Funding: all LNG terminals are owned/built/operated by consortiums of gigantic multinational companies, not governments. They cost 10’s of billions to design and build, which need to be borrowed from banks. The borrower must prove that it has a solid plan with guarantees in place to repay the loan with interest. The owner/operator of the terminal has all sorts of other very important liabilities. This is a no nonsense business.

Ref #15 https://thesaker.is/europes-mad-ban-on-russian-oil/

The EUropean experimental nat-gas EUthanasia

The EUthanized EUropean nat-gas “reserves”

the use-LESS European nat-gas “reserves” (explained in further detail).

In practice — per the Yogi Berra epilogue below – Europe´s underground “stored” nat-gas reserves today cannot be conveniently extracted from sub-surface. The reason is, that in order to achieve it, these reserves would need to

(1) be constantly RE-pressurized as briefly explained before, which now without NS1 and NS2 cannot ever be done through large parts of Germany and throughout Northern Europe with the consequent enormous impact this implies

and

(2) have abundant Russian pipeline nat-gas constantly flowing thus allowing to add-on such pressurized stored underground reserves to a comparatively FAR larger surface flow. This is the only possible practical way to extract underground nat-gas and ALSO to distribute such buried reserves through the surface distribution system pipeworks.

By themselves, without flowing pipeline nat-gas, such stored nat-gas reserves can hardly be produced onto surface and still with lots of negative impact. To attempt it would be an experiment never ever tried out before in the history of physics — or politics for that matter. “A bloody unnecessary experiment” Sir Isaac Newton would have mumbled in a low-tone whisper.

Curiously enough, top brass Wall Street bean counters do not pay one iota of attention regarding the potential negative impact of what is explained herein. Eventually they will, trust me, as the title still holds true and without the surface pipeline full of abundant flowing Russian nat-gas the supposed European “reserves” will mostly just end up sitting pretty underground as they are today, period.

Please also accept that trying to explain highly technical issues of what´s really going on to a very broad audience (politicians included) is not simple. It is most important, mind you, but not simple… Boredom is a constant risk which by the way I am running right now. Losing the audience altogether is a very real possibility. And that´s the reason why many times I repeat the same ideas with slightly different language (and angle of perspective) as best I can … and as technical considerations allow it. And that´s why I also try to make these articles naturally vivid and colorfull so as to get your attention.

Now if the audience were the API-SPE-ASTM-NACE-ASME-AAPG types I would of course explain stuff differently. But no Western technical venue would ever allow me to submit the thesis you all already know about as all of them (and I do mean ALL) just kow-tow the official line to move on with “nothing to see here”.

  1. RE-pressurization

Constant RE-pressurization of subsurface stored nat-gas is required to maintain enough (large) volume and enough underground pressure as driving force to produce it onto surface. This is needed to compensate for the unavoidable and also constant DE-pressurization due to

  1. underground losses (thermal, friction, permeation, dissipation, fissures, cracks, porosity, etc.).
  2. pressure drawdown (loss) produced every time that sub-surface reserves are brought onto surface. Without RE-pressurization, future required pressure would not be available and possible surface soil collapse or subsidence could lead to seismographic activity nobody wants such as with fracking. This needs an active and fully operational surface pipeline to bring in nat-gas for re-injection of underground nat-gas reserves. Besides, whenever the traditional surface pipeline inflow is interrupted or non-existant (such as today in Northern Germany and Northern Europe) storage nat-gas will also be depleted way earlier because it was not ever supposed to constitute the only winter load by itself… and as explained later no surface King Kong express bull-dozing effect would exist for surface pipeworks distribution.

Catherine gal

The reference way above (on top) clearly mentions that without nat-gas flowing through the Russian pipelines the extraction of the nat-gas stored in European underground caverns or sub-surface deposits would be highly problematic or even impossible. The Saker commenter Catherine ( thanks again gal ! ) worded it out short & sweet. That´s why I look out for her comments in order to touch base with down-to-earth communication reality. Catherine drove the point home by saying “ Germany says it has enough gas in storage to get through the better part of winter. Thanks for demolishing that statement – I had no idea an inflow was needed to make it a viable solution” Please focus on Catherine saying “…an inflow was needed…”

So how does stored nat-gas actually flow out from sub-surface storage then ? Okay, to answer that please allow me to describe the Russian nat-gas pipeline as a huge (and I do mean HUGE) 8-lane x 18-wheeler freight truck King Kong autobahn. Yes, differential pressure from the pressurized underground nat-gas does actually play a role, but better be very careful with such or you will end up FREEZING everything around you including the young field engineers and their sisters. So what is actually also needed is a King Kong pipeline which just moves a tremendously large nat-gas MASS (trust me) with sustained flow-rate and relative pressure while also rendering a very-much-needed THERMAL stability cushion. It thus “pushes along” or displaces anything in its way, also including the incorporation of the possible nat-gas to be very slowly released-produced-extracted-bubbled up from underground European storage caverns as slightly aided by the pressure differential between stored depth and surface.

Accordingly… highly pressurized subsurface caverns by themselves will not work as expected unless a constant flow – even at low flow rates and pressures — is always maintained from the Russian pipeline source… thus pushing the stored nat-gas “out there” as required for distribution through surface grid pipeworks for this mix between (a) Russian pipeline nat-gas plus (b) possible European underground stored nat-gas. So the latter (b) can only be added-on to a much larger flow-rate of the former (a) probably with a ratio below 10% as we shall later see. But the point is we do NEED the surface pipeline flow to incorporate, drag along and thermically stabilize the expanding sub-surface nat-gas.

  1. the bulldozing King Kong Express

At any rate, the Russian pipeline is the friendly “monster” which carries an overwhelming amount of nat-gas with sustained internal flow-rate thus performing as our “King Kong” bulldozer express (sorta). Accordingly, it rules with the overpowering momentum (or inertia Newton would say) of the MASSIVE amount – which also performs as a thermally stabilizing cushion — of nat-gas it naturally carries by design and always “pushing along” and incorporating everything it finds in its way…including the possible well-managed, small, non-freezing inflow from sub-surface storage deposits.

Now here comes an additional concept relating to comparative amounts of nat-gas from both the pipeline and the possible sub-surface storage deposits quantity, type, and capabilities of which we fully ignore but must assume are highly variable and heterogenous animals. Of course, the volume and mass of nat-gas that the surface pipeline brings along always has to be much LARGER than the possible inflow received from underground storages in order to “bull-doze” it along as King Kong would and thus thermally absorb it also. That is why the very first paragraph entitled “high school physics” stated that

The problem starts when ignorant fools dream up the idea that nat-gas reserves can be used as a 100% substitute for nat-gas flowing feedstocks. They simply cannot, period. Actually, God invented nat-gas reserves as a supplement to – not a substitute of – flowing nat-gas feedstocks so that in high demand season (winter) the cheaper nat-gas reserves piled up during low consumption season (summer) could be added to help satisfying winter´s high demand. Nat-gas reserves are good for nothing more than that and definetly not a substitute of flowing feedstocks”.

stored nat-gas %

You may now ask exactly what ratio should that proportion be ? Well we can´t know precisely although it surely varies but it does NOT really matter because (1) it´ll be set for what it has to be at (2) what matters is the very EXISTENCE of this King Kong express having a MASSIVE bull-dozing and thermally stabilizing nat-gas cushion flow which would forcefully push along whatever it finds in its way thus adequately incorporating / adding the nat-gas inflow received from underground storage thru very VERY very carefull pressure differential management to be explained later. Historically, European nat-gas storage percentages vary between 80% at the end of summer and 30% at the end of winter (approx.) So we can infer that 50% of the stored volume spent during such 6-month period would require to – in AVERAGE – to spend 8% per month x 6 months = 50% of the stored nat-gas (approx.). So that´d mean an AVERAGE of 8% per month inflow of whatever volume each facility may have stored (unknown in absolute figures) during a 6-month period of cheaper gas purchased and stored during low-demand season (summer). But by no means does stored nat-gas substitute for massive King Kong surface inflows as without such it cannot be adequately surfaced in enough quantities just producing a generalized freeze-out to be explained later. Because underground stored nat-gas cannot suddenly and massively be surfaced onto an empty pipeline because the high differential pressure would freeze up all within minutes plus it would be spent-up in a hurry with the consequent pressure drop, a very bad idea.

Europe, we have a problem

And the problem now for Europe is PRECISELY that such Russian pipelines NS1 and NS2 are not operational thus not allowing for anything of what has been described herein so far. For without such active King Kong pipelines almost unsolvable problems appear as later described. So once the Russian pipeline nat-gas flow stops dead,such European stored gas would not be naturally displaced or “moved along” to elsewhere it may be needed, be it for home heating or power generation, or anything else. And if the push pressure applied to the sub-surface nat-gas were substituted by pressure exerted by any other gas or mixtures thereof (air or otherwise) the Russian pure nat-gas already stored would soon inter-mix and dilute beyond possible practical use as European installations, equipment and devices are contractually fine-tuned to be fed by pure Russian nat-gas, not anything else. Furthermore, mixing with air (oxygen) would be very risky and no one in his right mind would try that, trust me. Any other gas or mix thereof is impossible.

driving forces #1 + #2

So two (2) driving forces are required to extract / produce the EU underground stored nat-gas. Both are needed, either one of them by itself is not enough. Driving force #1 is sub-surface pressure so that the stored nat-gas is barely allowed to emerge to surface veeeeery slowly just timidly bubbling on to surface where it would meet and ride along with the King Kong express. This is known as pressure differential between the under-ground nat-gas and the King Kong flow on surface. If operators were careless enough to allow for a larger than required pressure differential all hell would break lose and we would have a very short-lived disaster with everything frozen. The reason is that nat-gas sudden and abundant expansion because of large pressure differentials means temperature drop – let alone in European mid-winter — to the point of forming one of the most feared problems in the business known as “methane hydrates” which would mean that everything breaks down seized FROZEN. More on that later, including solutions found for Alaskan and Arctic reservoirs but NOT applicable to European underground stored nat-gas which are many MANY many different funny animals just put together, like in a zoo. There is no need to explain the danger of methane hydrates, just google it.

Now driving force #2 is precisely the King Kong pipeline bull-dozing flow as already explained. What driving force #1 does is to get the nat-gas bubbling barely on to surface under the lowest possible differential pressure so as not to freeze everything up and merely for the only purpose of “presenting” the nat-gas on surface for it to be “blown away” or “moved along” or “pushed along” or “displaced ” thru the surface pipeworks to final destination… or whichever wording we find to suit everyone´s fancy (mission impossible, trust me). This would be the equivalent of Neymar passing the ball on to Messi – at full speed and on the run of course — for the Argentine genius to score just by shoving the ball past the goalposts with his chest, not even requiring to kick it in… I love the analogy, don´t you ?

Alaska & Siberia & the Artic and beyond…

I can already hear the howling of experienced “experts” letting us all know that the freezing-up problems of a strong differential pressure between nat-gas stored underground and surface pipeline (even empty, as it would now come to be) are today perfectly solvable. If such were possible (not) then a strong Delta P — as engineers call it — would be enough of a driving force #1 to solve such problem by itself without King Kong and get the sub-surface nat-gas all along the surface pipeworks… Oh, yes, I agree such “freezing-up” problems are pretty much “solved” yes of course … but only in Alaska and Siberia or wherever you happen to have a small OCEAN of sub-surface nat-gas reservoirs which justifies the design, construction, investment, equipment and huge operational expenses and expertise for the injection of methanol, pipe heating, etc. etc. all of which are very EXPENSIVE and difficult solutions. But NOT repeat NOT in comparatively very small size and highly atomized zoo of European underground nat-gas storage facilities all pretty much different (no carbon copy solution possible) all very different from each other requiring specific variations and modifications as widely distributed throughout different environments which are already installed and running… which certainly do NOT allow for such expense as it would mean prohibitive costs. It´s impossible now to up-end and retro-fit each individual sub-surface storage facility everywhere in Europe whatever its size, location and type so that it may have the means to deal with the impact of such suddenly de-pressurized nat-gas and further evenly distribute it on surface pipeworks at precise and agreed constant and homogenous pressure and flow-rate amongst the different cross-border stakeholders. Not. Sourcing, logistics, just-in-time distribution and injection of humongous volumes of methanol without prior notice is an unfathomable project not ever to be complied with in a few weeks time.

Furthermore, as if the above not were enough, a high differential pressure between undergound nat-gas and the surface would mean that the stored volume would be consumed / depleted / drawed down way too fast thus defeating the purpose of the whole concept and process. What´s happening today and the EXPERIMENT proposed was never ever foreseen by anyone decades ago including the original geologists, designers and engineering contractors… or current operators for that matter. Overabundant nat-gas inflow from Russia was always a “given” taken for granted, of course. No one could foresee the stupidity of provoking Europe´s best ever supplier into a needless war and thus shut itself down in an infamous EUthanasia to be studied foreverafter by future historians.

the nat-gas zoo EXPERIMENT

So let´s summarize the nat-gas zoo EXPERIMENT that has never-ever been needlessly thought of in the history of physics and nat-gas extraction and/or surface distribution management. Let alone as designed and proposed by EU politicians that obviously know jack about basic physics & chemistry and could not care less about its consequences. But you will, trust me. Oh, BTW these are NOT naturally flowing wells nor sucker-rod pumped wells with surface mechanical “grasshoppers” sucking oil & gas out, nor bottom hole producing wells with Electro Submersible Pumps (ESP)… These also are not water-swept wells such as in secondary recovery with water injected from near-by wells pushing the oil & gas to the producing wells, etc etc etc. These are sub-surface artificially pressurized nat-gas storage deposits, completely different animals altogether.

tools and resources absent

+ NO Russian nat-gas pipeline inflow (zero) – NO King Kong express – plain EMPTY shut-down of Russian pipeline

+ ZERO possibility of the “move along” King Kong express effect. None. AWOL.

+ ZERO possibility of RE-pressurizing any/all sub-surface nat-gas deposits throughout Europe meaning that they will all DE-pressurize at unknown different variable rates both amongst different underground storage caverns and within such due to their enormous heterogeneity and variability regarding type, size, and specific location within the surface distribution network, etc. I can´t believe what I´m typing …

exclusive driving force

+ ONLY current sub-surface pressures (whatever it happens to be, all different) as exclusive driving force to extract underground stored nat-gas from highly variable deposits (the zoo) meaning variable pressure differentials and flow rates requiring yet an additional layer of overall nat-gas production plus distribution & timing / scheduling management

available tools

+ highly HETEROGENOUS and variable cross-borders sub-surface deposits / caverns & reservoirs of different sizes, types and requirements hereinafter to be called “the unpredictable zoo” current and future pressures of which are fully unknown and can´t possible ever be known because of the heterogeneity variations amongst the zoo animals.

They are ALL different zoo animals in so many ways that no carbon-copy solution is possible. All the zoo animals were commissioned at different times with different criteria and different designs, NOT ever inspected as surface structures would be, all of them found in different underground and soil conditions, no internal metal carcass or even a “shotcrete” homogenous lining, all with varying degrees of fissures, cracks, porosities and permebilities, etc etc—

ALL requiring different sub-surface pressure tests re fill-up, shut-in, and pressure drawdown values to control the possibility of a fracture or large enough crack which would seriously endanger everyone in a 10-mile radius (or more)

unknowns

+ NO specific breakdown available regarding what “supposed” % of nat-gas reserves held exactly by which sub-surface “animal“ and at what current and future sub-surface pressure which will necessarily decrease through time

+ temperature, flow-rate and pressure subsurface inflow variations all along the surface pipeworks grid depending upon the cooling effect allowed for each individual underground nat-gas deposit by each individual un-regulated cross-border operator

+ 85% average nat-gas storage fill-up throughout Europe at unknown pressure and variation profile until March 2023.

+ NOT ever equivalent to an oil & gas well provided by wise Mother Earth under completely different conditions

no vacuum nor gas replacement

If nat-gas were substituted by any other gas or mixtures thereof (air or otherwise) the Russian pure nat-gas already stored would soon inter-mix and dilute beyond possible practical use as European installations and equipment are contractually fine-tuned for pure Russian nat-gas, not anything else. Pulling an extraction vacuum would not help or change anything as it would mean the same impact as the sub-surface pressure differential and would freeze up everything just the same and/or FUBAR the surface pipeworks distribution grid. Adding or “pushing” nat-gas with air or an air mix would be explosive

conclusions

The sub-surface storage and delivery of methane in enormously large quantities without having the traditional and foreseen huge Russian pipeline inflow is a spanking new and most probably unsuccessfull and dangerous experiment.

Question #1: Are all stakeholders AWARE of the above and have planned accordingly ? I don´t think so, do you ?

The abundant “iffy” explanations received ring many alarms for contingency planning. Should we expect total “normal” service failure ? Probably in large areas of Northern Europe, yes. Which areas and how large and how long ? We can´t say and it depends on many unknowns. Sometimes some areas may have partial service (yes, maybe for some time) others may only have temporary full service (maybe, maybe not) and yet others no service at all. It would just be yet another huge unnecessary EXPERIMENT not ever tried out anywhere… an experiment never ever tried out before in the history of physics or engineering — or politics for that matter. “A bloody unnecessary experiment” Sir Isaac Newton would have mumbled in a low-tone whisper. There is no crystal ball regarding what could happen, but for sure it will NOT be “normal” service everywhere for everybody all the time, as expected.

Today absolutely EVERYBODY throughout Europe is used to, requires and fully expects what we shall call “normal” everyday nat-gas supply service. BTW, there are other nat-gas sources for certain parts of Europe besides Russian pipelines which should function normally although at much higher prices than in the recent past. At least such exist TODAY and are operated at 125% of capacity and may suffer from such abuse, of course. So here we referred only to the NS1 & NS2 pipeline nat-gas non-supply, an absolute requirement most specially for Germany & Northern Europe.

Does this mean that such pipeline nat-gas won´t ever be available again ? We cannot know for sure but quite possibly it would not be available As We Know It (“normal” service) in many places for a long time to come. No one has ever tried this out, zero experience. Accidents will happen. Lots of stored nat-gas will be left behind. Lots, trust me. Chances are that hurriedly over-pressurized sub-surface caverns and nat-gas reservoirs will crack and others will plain fracture. Same goes for above ground tanks. This was never ever planned for. You don´t want to be within a 10 mile radius of any accident.

Question #2 : assuming that was explained herein is 100% wrong and everything just works out hunky-dory ? Once that the nat-gas storage is fully depleted throughout Northern Europe ( at best March 2023 ) what would happen then exactly ?

Even if this analysis were only 50% correct it´d be the same European nightmare, would it not ? Half-darkness and half-freezing and half-food would be more than enough…For sure there will be trouble by attempting to surface and use pressurized stored nat-gas without the Russian pipeline flow. Mistakes will be made. So whenever we hear about supposed European 90% nat-gas storage “reserves” please recall that such were conceived and recoverable by design, construction and operation only in addition to… and if and when… Russian pipeline nat-gas inflow were constantly maintained (not anymore) with at least a minimum inflow rate and pressure.

more questions

(3) have any of the experimental procedures described herein ever been followed before throughout Europe? (4) What positive experience is there available in facilities this large and so heterogenous and widespread with so much at stake and no time to plan and prepare ? (5) why would all of these procedures under the new unforeseen conditions not be considered to be truly experimental ? (6) would absolutely everybody in charge of European nat-gas storage facilities know about these problems in advance and proceed exactly as required by a PLAN without risking any experimentation and/or improvisation ?

sub-surface pressures

There are serious sub-surface cavern pressure limitations to avoid the risk of fracturing… with terrible consequences. Not well-studied and inadequate soil mechanics on possibly un-consolidated formations were already discussed in the original article of reference. So it´s a very tricky and potentially dangerous game to be played out with extreme care. Initially these sub-surface storage facilities may possibly be pressurized enough. But as winter comes on, the sub-surface pressures will decline and accordingly their production rate will also decline. So, by mid-winter, even if the quantity of gas remaining were apparently enough (50% ? ) the rate of production to surface would not meet the traditional demand. Storing nat-gas in sub-surface deposits under abnormal high pressure requires tons of specialized operation and maintenance. Extraction and delivery is very slow. Higher speed delivery to satisfy peak demand can only be sustained momentarily and necessarily running serious systemic risks. So many will get out of Dodge.

Yogi Berra epilogue

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is

It ain’t over ’til it’s over ”

6 Comments
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Jorge Vilches
1 month ago

LNG cannot and will not save the day either. Nobody was ready for this, LNG today is scarce worldwide, no terminals available at either end, no tankers… etc., etc So Europeans are very calm even after both NS1 & NS2 have been blown up. As if they´d all do just fine, you just wait… Michael Hudson agrees when saying… ” Despite being an act of violence, sabotaging the pipelines has restored calm to US/NATO diplomatic relations.” But even if I were only 50% correct — the problem in producing onto surface the supposedly “stored” underground nat-gas is not known in… Read more »

Col...'the farmer from NZ'
1 month ago

What an excellent expose’ Jorge!

So many contingencies and also now even undersea sabotage in the mix too. I’m hoping we can get updates from you on this fast-developing debacle.

This winter much of Europe is going to be a very dark, cold and dangerous place. Add into the mix an inevitable banking and financial banking crisis and this whole thing becomes an impending hellish nightmare.

What an example of what can happen when you are a friend and Ally of Uncle $am. Kissinger’s words should have already been ringing in every European’s ears long before now.

1 month ago

Hi again, Jorge. Nice to see you here . Excellent summary, especially about the issue of methane hydrates and pressure spikes. Hadn’t considered the hydrate problem when water displacement was first suggested. Wikipedia article on methane hydrates was informative. I thought of only icing from water itself, the hazard presented by dissolved gas from the wastewater, and the integrity of the caverns. Looks like a devilish problem of thermodynamics with equally devilish consequences. So that it, then. Europe’s gas in storage is all but unrecoverable and might as well not exist at all if it plays out as expected. I… Read more »

Jorge Vilches
1 month ago

North East Col, the farmer from NZ Something that may be misleading that is certainly widespread — for which I am not responsible of — is using the term “storage” for such ´reserves´ as “storage” in a warehouse or closet. It is not that. A better term would be “lung” but then we get the ambiguity derived from lungs that living beings breathe with. But at any rate such nat-gas reserves are not kept like you and I — and our wives — would keep dishes in a cupboard. It´s not easy to explain it just with words. Water plays… Read more »

Jorge Vilches
1 month ago

A couple of additional comments that make things MUCH worse… (1) any underground stored nat-gas that may possibly be recovered — not much, as we shall see later — will be sold NOT to the local community of nearby consumers but rather to the wholesale MARKET through the pipeworks grid described in the article above. So that if Germans living in, say, Frankfurt for whatever reason feel they´ll sorta be okay by having such and such large volume nat-gas storage facility close-by, well… they are freezing wrong because the nat-gas to be potentially produced from such large size storage will… Read more »