Gas Industry # 1972 Southampton
The discovery of the Groningen gas field - now the largest in the world - has wrought great changes in the pattern of the energy supply1 in the Netherlands (Fig. 1). Not only has the share of coal declined, but the increase in energy demand has to a large part been covered by natural gas, thanks partly to the stabilisation of attractive prices. All who are concerned with the transportation and distribution of natural gas will be interested in a survey of the past and future consumption figures in the various user categories, i.e. the gas distribution companies, the major industries and the electrical power stations, among the latter of which there are some that can choose between oil and natural gas. The percentage of the homes connected has gone up slightly from 75% in 1964 to 80% in 1970; as regards the near future, it is not expected that the figure .yill rise appreciably above 85%2 . However, the favourable pricingf policy has enabled many domestic consumers to use natural gas for space-heating purposes, and this has boosted the consumption figures.
The growth in the application of natural gas is, of course, also reflected in the sharp extension of the networks operated by the distribution companies. This potential market constituted a challenge not only to plastics producers and makers of plastics piping, but, in view of the economic advantages offered by the use of plastics pipes, also to the gas industry. The experience gained by these parties is discussed below.