High-deliverability salt cavern storage, which currently represents 16% of total U.S. underground storage deliverability, potentially could rise to a 25% share of deliverability by 2008, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a new report on “U.S. Underground Natural Gas Storage Developments: 1998-2005.”

The multi-cycling capability of salt cavern storage, coupled with the ability to react quickly to daily and even hourly demand variations has made it “very attractive to storage developers, whose profitability often depends on their capability to maximize turnover volumes,” EIA said.

Eleven of the 15 new storage fields currently proposed and nine of the 23 proposed storage expansions are salt caverns. In total, EIA said there are 38 proposed gas storage projects currently in the works. They have the potential to add 197 Bcf of working gas capacity and 9.5 Bcf/d of deliverability, which would represent an 11% increase in daily deliverability and a 5% hike in working gas capacity in the U.S. by the end of 2008.

EIA said between 1998 and 2005 estimated working gas capacity increased by 6% to a record 4.01 Tcf from 3.79 Tcf. Deliverability over that period rose to 83.6 Bcf/d from 73.9 Bcf/d, a 13% increase. EIA cited more efficient operational and construction techniques, such as horizontal drilling, as major contributors in the recent expansions. EIA’s practical estimate of current working gas capacity, which takes operational issues into account, is about 3.6 Tcf.

As of the close of 2005, there were 394 operating gas storage fields in the United States, but 37 of those were marginally operational, reporting little or no activity during the year. This compared with 410 total storage fields in operations in 1998 and a peak of 418 fields operating in 2001. Between 1998 and 2005, 42 fields were abandoned as uneconomic or defective, representing a loss of 223 Bcf of total capacity, while 26 sites accounting for 212 Bcf of new capacity were placed into operation, EIA said.

With the 26 new fields and 87 expansions completed over that 1998-2005 period, there was a steady increase in working gas capacity and deliverability despite the abandonments, EIA said.

Deliverability rates increased substantially over that period. About 4 Bcf/d of deliverability was added from the 26 new fields and another 5.9 Bcf/d of deliverability was added from the expansions to 63 existing fields. Furthermore, 6 Bcf/d of that deliverability increase came from salt cavern storage fields.

“The continuing growth in deliverability is significant in that it primarily represents increased utilization of salt cavern storage sites and the upgrading of a number of depleted reservoir storage facilities,” the agency said in its report.

©Copyright 2006Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.