Gas Infrastructure > Odorisation

Natural gas is, by nature,  combustible, colourless and usually with a low odour. The odorisation process of distributed gases is required for safety reasons and it acts as a “warning agent” in case of leakage. The process consists of injecting a chemical agent — an odorant ­— that adds a smell to the gas, turning it easily recognisable.

The odorisation process brings specific challenges that the industry is addressing. In particular, precision is key in order to inject the exact amount of odorant. A pre-defined quantity must be injected within a relatively narrow range. Additionally, the injection of odorant requires a permanent control and verification of the concentration level.

The technical installations injecting the odorant must be fully reliable to ensure the “smelling effect” is permanently present. To obtain this result, there is no single method, instead, different technical approaches have been implemented across Europe. MARCOGAZ conducts benchmarking by collecting information from its members to keep a track record of the operational data, best practices and experiences.

The injection of new gases into the network brings added complexity. When preparing the network to accept new gases — biomethane, hydrogen, and synthetic gases — additional verification efforts are necessary to ensure that the odorisation process remains fully effective and that the same level of safety is guaranteed. It is also important to ensure that no “masking effect”, which could potentially be triggered by other components, is present.

Since the presence of additional components in new gases can  generate chemical interferences with the potential masking effect of the odorant, MARCOGAZ is working towards a common understanding and identification of critical technical questions to address the topic.

With respect to safety standards, MARCOGAZ works towards bringing technical and environmental answers and solutions concerning the odorisation process of the distributed natural gas and new gases.

MARCOGAZ collects and shares operational data, analyses odorisation practices and regulations in Europe and keeps an eye on the impact of the odorisation on the interoperability across networks while delivering technical insights towards international documents.


Eugenio Salati