Engie is a major European energy supplier with a presence across the entire energy chain, comprising electricity and natural gas, upstream and downstream. The company purchases, produces, markets, transports and distributes natural gas and electricity as well as managing and developing major infrastructures, for both energy types, as well as developing and marketing energy and environmental services. Engie buys and supplies the largest amounts of natural gas and LNG sold in Europe. With its 196 500 employees, Engie operates in all 5 continents around the world and it has realised more than €74 billion in net sales in 2007. It has a geographically diversified natural gas supply portfolio based on long-term contracts, partnerships with other suppliers, own resources and short-term transactions. Engie operates the largest transmission and distribution systems in Europe and it is the second operator of underground storage sites and LNG terminals. Engie invests yearly approximately €80 million in natural gas related research projects in order to increase the performance of its business, to make its offerings more dynamic and to improve its long-term competitiveness.
Research activities are oriented towards four main priorities: maintaining a high level of safety, ensuring economic performance for both Engie and its customers, developing competitive advantages for the Group activities and preparing the future to ensure sustainable development. Based on an approach that privileges partnerships with players in every field of research, from the academic world, research institutes or industrial companies, the Research an Innovation Division gathers a wide range of competencies, particularly, in safety and reliability, materials and fluid mechanics, chemicals and combustion, industrial processes, environment, economics and new energy technologies. Engie is the main gas distributor in France and ensures the safety and continuity of French gas supply. Concerning gas distribution, the global length of network Engie operates in France is around 200 000 km in 2011.
Engie R&D objective for gas distribution field is to continuously improve the quality and the safety of its distribution processes while reducing installation and maintenance costs. Engie R&D is particularly involved in the research projects concerning buried asset location tools, so as to be able to detect and locate any part of its network, anywhere. The success of this project will allow this company to improve the safety of these networks and so to guarantee the supply of its customers with a decrease amount of incidents. One of the great concerns is the horizontal drilling technique for pipe laying, which is expected to be used on a wider scale. But at the moment, this technique development is disturbed by the lack of a reliable location tool.
To carry out the works assigned in the project, Engie, with the support of GrDF and Grtgaz, will put ORFEUS project, human and material resources of its Gas Research Centre, located in Saint-Denis (France). In this Centre (one of the biggest gas research centre in the world), Engie has a test area which is unique in the world and which allows for testing any buried asset location tool within several ground conditions. This test site will be used for tests in artificial sites, during the final qualification phases of ORFEUS project. Engie will also carry out test site in real conditions to improve the techniques and change the French requirements.
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