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US natural gas storage capacity in 2013

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

According to a new report from the US EIA, US natural gas storage capacity grew by 2% in 2013, led by strong gains in salt based storage in the traditional producing region as well as in non-salt storage fields in the West. In contrast, there was almost no growth in storage capacity in the East of the US. Each measure of aggregate storage capacity tracked by the EIA, demonstrated and design, increased by 2% from 2012.

Facts and figures

The storage capacity data from last year shows a continuation of a longer term trend of increasing capacity in the West and Producing regions. For the rolling five year period ending November 2013, demonstrated salt capacity in the Producing region increased 6.5% to 395 billion ft3 while demonstrated capacity in the West increased 4.7% to 645 billion ft3, compared with the five year period ending November 2012. This increased the total demonstrated maximum working gas volume in the Lower 48 states by 1.6% to 4332 billion ft3 over this time period.

Demonstrated storage

Demonstrated maximum working gas volume is a practical measure of how much gas can be stored for later use. This measure is calculated as the sum of peak volumes actually injected into those facilities, regardless of when the individual peaks occurred over the five year period. EIA’s data on demonstrated capacity come from monthly surveys of storage operations. For demonstrated capacity, the reason for using a rolling period is to capture the actual peaks that likely would not occur simultaneously across all 407 active facilities.

Design capacity

Working gas design capacity is an engineering measure of the estimated maximum volume of working gas that physically can be stored in an underground facility given its design specifications, physical characteristics, compression equipment, temperature and pressure at a point in time. As of November of last year, salt based capacity in the Producing region had grown 10.3% from its November 2012 level, while the Producing non-salt capacity in the region rose only 0.8% over the same period. Unlike other types of storage facilities, salt cavern storage is capable of rapid cycling and can be filled and drawn many times over the course of a year. This rapid cycling capability of injections and withdrawals led the Producing region to an average increase of 3.3% to 1572 billion ft3. Over the same period, the West rose 6.8% to finish at 804 billion ft3. The East rose only slightly, by 0.2%, to 2305 billion ft3.

Future storage

Most of the storage projects currently in the planning stages are in the Producing salt and West regions. Completion of these storage projects in 2014 could increase design capacity by 63 billion ft3, including 50 billion ft3 from facilities currently under construction. New salt facilities currently under construction in the Producing region account for 22 billion ft3 of the additional working gas capacity. In the West, completion of new facilities could increase design capacity by 28 billion ft3. An additional 13 billion ft3 of new capacity is also planned at existing facilities in 2014.

Adapted from a press release by Claira Lloyd.

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