Natural gas is a methane gas formed over centuries from the remnants of living organisms. Its combustion creates energy that can be used for a variety of applications, such as domestic heating. In Belgium, gas makes up over 25% of primary energy consumption. The gas we’re currently consuming is over 600 million years old.
Although it does not produce natural gas, Belgium is well situated, since over 50% of the world’s natural gas reserves are located within a 5,000 km radius. This makes us Europe’s natural gas transmission hub. Transmission takes place using pipelines and LNG tankers. Belgium has a very extensive network of pipelines, measuring around 3,800 km. The tankers carry the LNG (liquefied natural gas) via Zeebrugge. To liquefy the natural gas, it is cooled to -162°C at normal atmospheric pressure. During this process, its volume is reduced 600 times so it can be easily transported by sea.
Since the liberalisation of energy markets, distribution system operators have been responsible for the natural gas network and for connecting customers to it. The sale itself is carried out by a natural gas supplier.
Natural gas is also stored in Belgium to cope with the large seasonal variations in natural gas consumption. In spring and summer, gas imports exceed gas consumption and the surplus is stored. In winter, gas suppliers import less than the level of consumption, and the reserves can be used to meet the increased demand.
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