UK increases gas storage capacity

The UK’s gas storage capacity is set to rise by 15 per cent after the UK government gave Wingas Storage the go ahead to convert its Saltfleetby onshore gas field into an underground gas storage facility.

Saltfleetby in Lincolnshire is the UK’s largest onshore gas field and will provide between 700-800 million m3 of new gas storage capacity.

The Saltfleetby project would take natural gas from the National Transmission System at Theddlethorpe when demand for gas is low and then transport it via a pipeline to a new gas storage facility at Grayfleet East.

The gas would then be compressed by three compressors and injected into the partially depleted reservoir some 2.3km below ground level, where it could subsequently be withdrawn at times of high gas demand and returned to the National Transmission System through a new 8km, 20in diameter pipeline.

’We plan to convert this natural gas field into an underground storage reservoir, thus making a considerable contribution towards securing supply in the UK, whose storage capacities are currently inadequate,’ said Dr Rainer Seele, chairman of the board of directors of Wingas.

Construction and drilling operations for the project is expected to take the company – a joint venture of Wintershall and the Russian company Gazprom – between 30 and 36 months to complete. The company expects normal operating capacity of the facility to be around 7,650GWh.

Tom Foulkes, director general of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), said: ‘The approval of the Saltfleetby facility is a good start, but 15 per cent only adds a day or two to our current capacity, which is already insufficient and one of lowest in Europe, despite the UK having the highest demand.

‘It remains worrying that we will once again be at the mercy of unpredictable international markets this winter, however, we hope that the Energy Security and Green Economy Bill will help to tackle this issue for future years.’