Ukraine’s Gas and Bizarre Physics

Following on from Ukraine getting it’s gas shut off  (which I mentioned in passing as BBC and Weird Pravda Report on Gas), I thought I’d pedantically point out a small error in a statement from Ukraine.

It’s meaningless as a point, but does emphasise the tit-for-tat nature of the current impasse with Russia (GazProm).  Specifically, Russia is claiming that the Ukraine is stealing gas from the (common) pipeline to Europe.  See

Ukraine accused of stealing gas

Here’s What was said:

  • Russia says Ukraine steals gas
  • Ukraine says it’s only taking gas to “ensure the supply” to Europe…
  • The EU customers say they’ve had no reduction in supply

Here’s How it works:

  • GazProm stuffs gas in one end of a pipe in Russia with a big pump
  • GazProm know how much they’ve sent – with a big meter!
  • Europe takes out the gas at the other end
  • Europe knows how much they get – with a big meter!
  • The two meters agree!

So What’s Going On?

Naftogaz, the Ukraine’s company, says it’s “removing gas for technical purposes, in order to ensure the transit of Russian exports”…

Now here’s the physics.  All gases obey “The Gas Laws” which are an amalgamation of various people’s work over the years into one, nice, easy-to-remember, formula which is

Pee times Vee over Tee is a constant

Tee is temperature, on the absolute temperature scale.  So 20degC is not twice as hot as 10degC.  In fact, it’s only a percent or so, and this is important.

Now use the Gas Laws to check the sums…

Because if Naftogaz are removing gas (i.e. increasing the Vee, Volume on top) to “keep the pressure up” as they say, it implies that the temperature in Europe is a lot colder than in Russia (that would lower the pressure at constant V), or the pipeline in Europe is a lot fatter than the pipeline in Russia (larger volume would lower pressure at constant T).

Or look at it like this:  what happens to the tyre pressure when you let air out of a bicycle tyre – it goes down!

This is all plainly bunkum.  Someone, somewhere is telling porkie-pies.  We know that the Ukraine admit to taking gas out – they’ve actually said so!

So now we have to decide which of the other two parties, Russia or Europe, has the duff meter, or if they’re not duff, what’s going on.?

We have to look to Europe to see why they would say they are getting all the gas they expect to get, when plainly, they’re not!  This because both Russia and Ukraine say that gas is being removed from the pipe by Ukraine.

Why would Western Europe say this?

A. Because they don’t want to upset Russia, especially in the depths of winter.  Even though, we pay nearly twice the price for it as Ukraine!

Simple really.  It’s nothing to do with gas pressure and everything to do with political pressure.

By Strangely

Founding member of the gifted & talented band, "The Crawling Chaos" from the North-East of England.

5 comments

  1. Putin and the pro-Russian Princess Leia – sorry, Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, have come to an accord that the gas will flow pretty soon.

    Well they should do, really. After all, they’ve been in cahoots for decades! It’s not for nothing that Tymoshenko is nicknamed the “Gas Princess”. She got this because of all the missing gas that disappeared in transit across the Ukraine – does this sound familiar?

  2. Since my last comment addition on the 6th, I think the gas has been on and off twice.

    Needless to say, the folks in Eastern Europe who depend entirely on Russia for the stuff, will have to start chopping their wonderful forests down soon, if they want to keep warm.

    The Czechs must be especially peeved. Their country used to be the major source of pitchblende, the prime ore of uranium. But since WW2 it’s been rapidly used up so they couldn’t be self-sufficient in nuclear power even if they wanted to!

    Here’s a link to a rather agitated Czech news report on the developing situation and how the Czechs, at least, are pushing ahead with some diplomacy: EU Ministers Appreciate Steps Taken by Czech Presidency to Resume Gas Supplies

    And this is how the the Arab Aljazeera reports the latest gas shutdown: Gas supply from Russia ‘blocked’ . The quotes say it all really.

    And what is technical gas anyway?

  3. Well, they’ve turned the gas right off now! European gas supplies disrupted.
    Serbia, which is notably pro-Russian, is only getting a 10% whiff of the stuff now, and yes, brr, it’s pretty cold right now, I can tell you.

    How much warning and how much prompting do people need as a trigger to free themselves from the burden of depending on someone else all the time for basic necessities.

    Surely it’s obvious now that we live un-sustainable existences! Surely?

  4. Another day, another gas leak.
    Today, in contrast to yesterday, some EU countries have finally said that they’re not getting the right amount of gas – it’s a bit short, see Ukraine warns EU of gas ‘problem’.
    Romania, Hungary, Poland and Bulgaria said the pressure in their pipelines fell after Russian gas giant Gazprom cut off Ukraine’s supply. However, Poland can be supplied by pipelines that don’t cross Ukraine…The other three DO get their gas from Ukraine crossing pipes. Check the map here.

    Of course, if the West pulled it’s finger out there would be no need of any of this. We now have the ideal opportunity to free ourselves from fossil fuel dependancy and thus, the external influences of countries working against our interests. And not a single bullet needs to be fired to make ourselves free!

    If rising sea-levels and mass extinctions aren’t a trigger, then surely our unseemly dependance on dodgy states and idealogies is something to end as fast as possible.

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