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Natural gas storage capacity increases in 2012

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

Working natural has storage capacity experienced an increase of approximately 2% between November 2011 and November 2012 in the lower 48 states of the US, according to a report by the Energy Information Administration (EIA)

The report, titled ‘Underground Working Natural Gas Storage Capacity’, found that the largest increases occurred primarily in the salt dome facilities of the Producing region. The highest gains were attributed to existing sites in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Another 71 billion ft3 could be added to design capacity in 2013 from projects that are reportedly under construction; this estimate includes an anticipated 35 billion ft3 in the Producing salt, and 37 billion ft3 in the West region. The report did not reference any capacity increases in the East in 2013. This may be partly explained by readily available volumes of Marcellus Shale gas.

EIA uses two measures of storage capacity and both increased by similar amounts:

  • Demonstrated maximum working gas volume increased by 1.8% to 4265 billion ft3.
  • Working gas design capacity increased 2% to 4265 billion ft3.

Demonstrated maximum working gas volume is an operational measure of underground storage capacity. Filling storage, which requires compressors to inject the gas into the storage facility, becomes more difficult and expensive as storage volume nears its maximum and pressures inside the facility increase. This is why the demonstrated maximum is usually less than the design capacity, averaging 93% over the past two five year comparison periods.

Design capacity is an engineering measure of the estimated maximum volume of working gas that can physically be stored in an underground facility given its design specifications, physical characteristics, compression equipment, temperature and pressure. Growth in this measure between November 2011 and November 2012 was led by salt capacity additions in the Producing region, in addition to growth in the West region.

New facilities completed in 2012 included the Ryckman Creek, East Cheyenne, and Princeton Field projects in the West region, and the Stratton Ridge salt dome in the Producing region.

Design capacity for non salt storage facilities in the Producing region decline 8 billion ft3 during 2012 due to downward adjustment in working gas capacity at the Clear Lake storage field, following a 2012 change in ownership.

Adapted from press releases by Emma McAleavey.

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