The Northeast’s hunger for gas storage could be answered by anew high-deliverability rock cavern technology being developed inSweden. A consortium of U.S. and European companies areparticipating in a project to develop lined rock cavern (LRC)technology. LRC performance is said to be similar to that of saltcavern storage, but it can be located in areas where salt is notgeologically present. The consortium is made up of New York StateElectric & Gas Corp. (NYSEG) and the European companies Gaz deFrance and Sydkraft of Sweden.
Traditionally, gas peaking needs in the Northeast have been metusing liquefied natural gas (LNG) or propane/air, both of whichhave limited flexibility. Because of its high injection andwithdrawal capability, LRC storage can be completely cycled up to12 times per year. Partial injection and withdrawal cycles can beprovided daily or even hourly. And it may be possible to locate anLRC facility adjacent to a large end user, such as a localdistribution company or power plant, to minimize pipelinetransportation costs. However, LRC storage is expected to costabout twice as much to develop as similarly sized salt cavernstorage, said Mike Kroft, NYSEG manger of commercial and industrialgas sales. The projected costs of LRC storage per dekatherm ofdaily deliverability is $8 per month.
Kroft said NYSEG and its partners are in the process ofdetermining whether LRC is economic for the New England area.Mitigating the higher costs would be the ability for customers toturn back some of their upstream pipeline capacity. Also, multipleinjections and withdrawals allow for better economics, Kroft said.
“We’re looking at essentially the New England area, Connecticut,Massachusetts, and Maine. It’s partly based on some siting type ofstudies that we are in the process of doing. And then there’s alsoconsideration of the market potential.” Ideal would be a spot wherethere’s a new power plant going up and also a gas LDC on which gascould be moved without using interstate lines.
An LRC project could complement Sable Island gas supply arrivingin New England on the Maritimes and Northeast pipeline, Kroft said.”You’ve got to get enough capacity for whatever your peak need is.If some storage could be had to level that out, the two couldcomplement each other.”
Developed in Sweden, LRC technology involves lining speciallymined rock caverns with steel, enabling the storage of up to 3 Bcfof gas at pressures around 3,500 psig. The LRC concept has beenengineered and tested in Grangesberg, Sweden. A determinationproject under construction in Skallen, Sweden, is to be placed inoperation in early 2001 for full-scale testing and evaluation.Phase I of the U.S. project entails geologic and environmentalreview of potential sites, construction evaluation, and marketanalysis. If it is decided later this year to go forward with aU.S. project, the anticipated in-service date for an LRC cavernwould be the winter of 2004-2005.
Joe Fisher, Houston
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