Northern Lights (pipeline)

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Northern Lights
Location of Northern Lights
Location of Northern Lights
Country Russia, Belarus
General direction nourth-south-west
From Urengoy gas field
Passes through Vuktyl, Ukhta, Gryazovets, Torzhok, Smolensk, Minsk
Runs alongside Yamal–Europe pipeline
General information
Type natural gas
Operator Gazprom, Beltransgaz
Commissioned 1985
Technical information
Length 7,377 km (4,584 mi)
Maximum discharge 51 billion cubic meters per year

Northern Lights (Russian: Сияние северa) is a natural gas pipeline system in Russia and Belarus. It is one of the main pipelines supplying north-western Russia and is an important transit route for Russian gas to Europe.[1]


The Northern Lights pipeline system was built in the Soviet Union from the 1960s to 1980s. Construction of the VuktylUkhtaGryazovetsTorzhok section started in 1967 and was completed in 1969. By 1974, the pipeline had been extended to Minsk .[2] The second main trunk line was added during the 1970s and by 1985, a third main trunk line had been built.[3] Originally, gas was supplied by the Vukhtyl gas field, but later the pipeline was extended in order to connect with the Urengoy gas field.

Technical description[edit]

Gas pipelines from Russia to Europe

The Northern Lights pipeline system has a total length of 7,377 kilometres (4,584 mi), of which around 2,500 kilometres (1,600 mi) is used to transport Russian gas to Europe. The pipeline runs from the Urengoy gas field through Vuktyl, Ukhta, Gryazovets, Torzhok and Smolensk to Minsk in Belarus and from there to Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania.[1][2][4] A part of the newer Yamal–Europe pipeline runs parallel to the Northern Lights pipeline.[1] A branch line from Gryazovets through Saint Petersburg to Vyborg supplies the Saint Petersburg area and Finland. A third parallel line will be added to this branch to supply the Nord Stream pipeline. In Torzhok, the Northern Lights pipeline intersects with the Moscow–Saint Petersburg pipeline supplying the Saint Petersburg area, Latvia and Estonia. The Minsk–VilniusKaliningrad branch line supplies Lithuania and Kaliningrad Oblast while the Ivatsevichy-Dolyna branch line supplies Ukraine and the Kobrin-Brest-Warsaw branch line supplies Poland.

The system from Torzhok to the West consists of five major trunk pipelines:[1][5]

Route Length Strings Capacity Diameter Built in
Torzhok-Minsk-Ivatsevichy 454 km 3 45 bcm/year 1200 mm 1975–1983
Ivatsevichy-Dolyna (to Ukraine) 146 km 2 1220 mm 1976/1981
Kobrin-Brest-Warsaw (to Poland) 87 km 1 1020 mm 1985
Minsk-Vilnius (to Kaliningrad and Lithuania) 196 km 1 1220 mm 1988
Torzhok-Dolyna (to Ukraine) 364 km 1 1420 mm 1994

This part of the system has 6 compressors stations. Its technical input capacity is 51 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year; however, due to the age of the pipeline system, its operational capability is estimated to be 46-48 bcm per year. In 2007, it transported 39 bcm of gas; 20.6  bcm to Belarus for domestic supply and 18.4 bcm for transit to Europe. The total amount of Russian gas transmitted through Belarus to Europe was 70.1 bcm in 2007.[1]


The Russian section of the pipeline system is a part of the unified gas system of Russia and is owned and operated by Gazprom. The pipeline section on the territory of Belarus became Belarusian property after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and is now owned and operated by Beltransgaz.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Yafimava, Katja (2009). "Belarus: the domestic gas market and relations with Russia". In Pirani, Simon. Russian and CIS Gas Markets and their Impact on Europe. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-955454-6. 
  2. ^ a b Dienes, Leslie; Shabad, Theodore (1979). The Soviet energy system: resource use and policies. New York: V.H. WinstonNorthern Lights. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-470-26629-8. 
  3. ^ International petroleum encyclopedia. 16. New York: PennWell Pub. Co. 1985. p. 196. 
  4. ^ Dahl, Carol Ann (2004). International energy markets: understanding pricing, policies, and profits. New York: PennWell Books. p. 263. Retrieved 2009-10-24. 
  5. ^ "Belarus Gas Pipelines". East European Gas Analysis. 2009-03-12. Retrieved 2009-10-19.