60th anniversary of first gas main in Russia

August 31, 2006

Oil and gas prospecting at the Elshano-Kurdyumskaya gas area in the Saratov Oblast started in the 30es of the 20th century.

In 1941 near the Elshanka village (Saratov) the first gas well was drilled with daily output of 800 thousand of cu. m. In June 1942 another well was drilled being as productive as the first one. This fact enabled experts to come to a conclusion of opening a new field with commercial gas reserves.

In September 1942 the USSR Sovnarkom approved the Decree on Natural Gas Production of the Elshanskoye Field in the Saratov Oblast and Gas Supply to Saratov GRES Power Plant. The field entered into production development.

In October 1942 the first gas was supplied via the Elshanka-Saratov gas pipeline with total length of 16 km to Saratov GRES power plant. Soon Saratov's power plants, leading production enterprises, bakery plants and domestic institutions were switched to local gas.

In 1943, near Kurdyum village of the Saratov Oblast another field with 1 mcm daily production rate was found. In 1944 significant gas reserves estimating at 6 bcm of gas were found in the region.

At the end of 1944 the USSR State Defense Committee decided to construct 843 km gas pipeline Saratov-Moscow to supply gas to the capital's industrial infrastructure facilities and population.

In 1945, within the two months, geologists, land-surveyors, design engineers and drill-operators carried out geological engineering survey and route selection on the territory of the Saratov, Tambov, Penza, Ryazan and Moscow Oblasts. The pipeline route crossed 80 major and minor rivers including navigable rivers such as the Tsna, Oka, and Moscow Rivers and 125 km of woodlands as well as swamps and a number of highways and railroads. The total gas pipeline length, diameter, pressure are at 843 km, 325 mm and 5.5 MPa, respectively. The total capacity of six reciprocating compressor stations is equal to 35 thousand horsepower.

Nearly 30 thousand of people worked daily at the construction facilities. Several dozens of plants for machine-building, instrument engineering, heavy machine-building and other industrial enterprises produced nearly 9000 items of various equipment and materials required for the pipeline construction.

The pipeline became a testing ground for innovative technologies. The rapid-flow technique running line works was firstly applied in the project. New construction mechanisms and route operating devices as well as gas welding equipment were tested. The jam-welding of high pressure thin-wall tubes with wall thickness of 6.25 mm was tried out.

The pipeline construction was accomplished in a relatively short time period. In July 1946 natural gas was supplied to Moscow.