116th anniversary of construction of legendary Sarmasel Well 2, which revolutionised history of natural gas in Europe

The construction of the first commercial natural gas well in Romania, originally designed for the extraction of potassium salts, began 116 years ago, on February 6, 1908, in the town of Sarmasel, Mures County, and led to at least three European firsts.

“There are important methane gas deposits in the Sarmas area. The first methane gas well in Transylvania was installed here on February 6, 1908 (at Sarmasel). The methane gas fields led to the development of investments in the field: hundreds of gas extraction and storage wells, gas transport and distribution manifolds, two gas compression stations, etc. In addition to these, services were developed, but also production companies such as wood processing (furniture factory), production of building materials (brick factory) appeared. Sarmasel Well 2, as a landmark well in the discovery of gas deposits in the Transylvanian Basin, having an old surface installation, could become a museum well,” Dinuca Burian, director of the Sarmasu City Library, said on Facebook on Tuesday.

According to the Natural Gas Museum in Medias, the first natural gas emanations in Romania were discovered in Sarmasel in 1909, which led to the construction of the first natural gas pipeline in Europe in 1914.

“Sarmasel Well 2, originally intended for the extraction of potassium salts, accessed one of the richest natural gas deposits in the world at that time. The year 1910 marks the first intention in Europe to transport gas, completed in 1914 with Europe’s first gas pipeline from Sarmasel to Turda, a distance of 55 kilometres. A year later, in 1915, the first company in Europe, the ‘Ungarische Erdgas Gesellschaft (UEG)’, was founded, whose sole activity was the drilling, exploitation, transport and distribution of natural gas in the Transylvanian Basin. In 1925 the National Methane Gas Company, ‘Sonametan’, was founded, which would take over the UEG’s assets in the following years. 1928 included, in a European first, the completion of the gas compression station at Sarmasel, equipped with 3 Ingersol Rand horizontal compressors,” says the Medias Gas Museum on its website.

The national and European firsts generated by Sarmasel Well 2 did not stop there, however, as Romania became the first country in Europe to build a gas compression station on the route of a main pipeline.

“In 1933, the first gravimetric prospecting in Romania on a gas structure was carried out at Sarmasel. Romania’s first gas storage depot was built in 1958 at Ilimbav, Sibiu county. Romania became the first country in Europe to build a gas compression station on the route of a main pipeline in 1965. In 1969, Romania ranked fourth in the world in terms of gas production, accounting for 2.54% of world production. In 1974, the gas pipeline transiting through Romania was put into operation to transport gas to Bulgaria,” inform the records of gas exploitation in Romania.

The town of Sarmasu is located in the north-western part of Mures County, in the centre of the Transylvanian Plain, on the upper course of the Plain Stream, a tributary of the Mures River, at an average distance of 50-60 kilometres from the cities of Targu Mures, Cluj-Napoca, Bistrita, Ludus, Reghin and Turda.

The village of Sarmasel in the town of Sarmasu is known for the naturally occurring “eternal flames” burning since 1909.