Engineering work has started on a 1.5bn cubic metre underground gas-storage scheme to be built offshore in the East Irish Sea.

AMEC, Parsons Brinckerhoff and Senergy have been appointed by Gateway Storage Company to undertake the front-end engineering design (FEED) work for the offshore and onshore elements of the Gateway gas-storage facility.

The construction of the facility is scheduled for completion by the end of 2010 and commencement of gas-storage services for the UK market is expected to begin in 2014.

It is hoped that the £600m storage facility will add capacity equal to approximately 30 per cent of current UK storage capacity, sufficient to meet five days of Britain’s average gas demand.

Gateway will be built in salt caverns approximately 750m beneath the surface of the seabed and located 15 miles offshore, south west of Barrow-in-Furness. The Gateway facility will be connected to the National Gas Transmission System (NTS), through a new pipeline, to a gas-compression station adjacent to the existing Morecambe gas terminals at Barrow.

AMEC’s work will include offshore installations, pipelines, the onshore compression station at the Morecambe terminals and the connections into the National Grid. Parsons Brinckerhoff will advise Gateway on the salt-cavern design and construction, and Senergy’s work will concentrate on the offshore infrastructure, installation, logistics and well designs. The project team is based in Aberdeen.

Andrew Stacey, director of Gateway Storage, said: ‘Given the scale of the project, there is much work to do but Gateway Storage will bring storage capacity and deliverability to the UK energy market, and so help reduce price volatility and risk.’