Going underground

Storengy, a company of GDF SUEZ, is a European leader in underground natural-gas storage.

It currently operates and develops storage facilities across France (Storengy SA), the United Kingdom (Storengy UK Ltd) and Germany (Storengy Deutschland GmbH) with 16 sites and close to 11 billion m³ in working capacity.

Storengy is involved in all new storage-related pursuits, planning, development, installation and operating activities, as well as the commercialisation of gas storage capacities.

Storengy is one of just a handful of operators with the technical expertise to take advantage of all the different storage possibilities available, whether in salt caverns, aquifers or depleted gas fields. This know-how gives the company a major competitive edge when it comes to exploiting the full potential for growth in new storage facilities.

To support growth in demand and security of supply, fulfill the market’s need for responsiveness and ensure high-quality storage services to gas suppliers, Storengy is working to optimise the performance and expand the capacity of its existing facilities and develop projects.

Storengy UK Ltd has recently started the construction of the Stublach Gas Storage Project (SGSP). The highly flexible gas storage facility will allow the company to offer a broad range of storage Storengy 04 2010 bservices to interested parties and will contribute to securing gas supplies to UK customers. Storengy UK Ltd’s finance and commercial director, Arnaud Goffin, elaborates on the project: “We signed the agreement with INEOS Enterprises for the development of a new salt cavern storage facility in Stublach in North West England. We entered into the first phase of construction in 2007, which was completed in 2009. The second phase will encompass the construction of two gas compressors, two dehydration towers, a gas metering system and all the other gas pipeline needed for the facility.”

The project, located in Cheshire, will be developed in three phases between 2013 and 2018, in up to 28 caverns. This makes it one of the largest salt cavern projects in Europe. At Stublach, the withdrawal and injection rates and the number of days required to empty the facility completely are also very favourable. The first caverns are to be commissioned in 2013 and the company will operate the infrastructures on a 30-year lease agreement running until 2037. With an investment budget estimated at around £350 million, the new facility, which will be one of the main UK storage facilities, will enhance the security of supply to the UK market.

Arnaud describes the benefits of the flexible gas storage facility for its customers and Storengy’s strengths as a business: “Storengy is the second largest gas storage operator in Europe, with 12 operating facilities in France and four in Germany. The Stublach project is the first that we have had in the UK. The UK at first was supplied mainly with gas from the North Sea but with that declining more and more, gas is increasingly having to be imported into the UK. As a result we are seeing a growing need for additional gas storage to secure the supply, and also to provide the flexibility required with this type of storage where you can inject and withdraw the gas very quickly. In fact this storage facility is very suitable for gas traders to take advantage of the volatility of gas prices.”

Storengy is committed to ensuring that Stublach remains an environmentally friendly project. The technique used for the development of the caverns will be leaching, where the salt is dissolved by injecting water. Storengy will manage the injection process and the production of the brine that will then be used by INEOS for industrial purposes. As one of the few projects to have obtained all necessary consents, Stublach’s completion is eagerly anticipated by the industry. Given the rapid growth in gas imports and the need for new gas storage, there are a number of projects in the pipeline.

While the recession has caused financial devastation for many companies and shaken many industries to their core, Arnaud is confident that given the nature of Storengy’s business, it will be able to grow further. He explains: “The recession has really hit all companies hard over the last couple of years. However, since the construction of such energy infrastructures takes a very long time, we have to take more of a long-term perspective and keep investing to be ready when the economy has recovered. We also face problems specific to our industry such as difficulties in getting planning consent for this type of projects.”

Storengy is offering an indispensable service, the need for which will only grow as the North Sea field declines and gas importing grows. Arnaud concludes: “We are confident because the UK needs additional storage capacity and we can offer our customers a number of advantages – we have experience in building these gas storage facilities and also as part of a major utility group we’ve got the funding and support to offer our clients the services they require.”

Storengy UK Ltd
Services: Gas storage