Underground natural gas storage facility
The Trans Adriatic Pipeline project is exploring the possibility of developing an underground natural gas storage facility in Albania. This feature would enhance the reliability of gas supply for energy consumers in South Eastern Europe.
What are the benefits of gas storage?
• TAP gas storage will support the security of energy supply for Europe, and the South Eastern European region in particular.
• It will provide increased flexibility to deal with supply disruptions or seasonal variations in energy consumption.
• It will enhance flexibility for shippers and buyers of gas.
• It will boost the South Eastern European gas-to-power market.
Where will the gas storage facility be located?
The TAP project is investigating the option of developing gas storage facilities in the Dumre region in central Albania, using underground salt formations. This area is located approximately 50 km to the south of Tirana, and 20 km to the north of the planned Trans Adriatic Pipeline route.
Salt domes are thick formations created from natural salt deposits that, over time, leach up through overlying sedimentary layers to form large dome-type structures. They can be as large as 1,500 metres in diameter, and 9,000 metres in height. The salt domes are well-suited for natural gas storage because they are air-tight and prevent natural gas leakage.
In order to build underground gas storage, it is necessary to create caverns leached out by drilling wells and pumping water into the salt layer. Each cavern is about 300 metres high and 80 metres wide. The caverns can contain up to 50 million cubic metres of gas during operations. Typically salt caverns used for natural gas storage are located between 2,000 and 500 metres below the surface.
The walls of the caverns are solid and shock resistant. TAP envisages the creation of 3 to 5 caverns initially.
Underground natural gas storage system
The TAP’s natural gas storage system will be comprised of three distinct elements:
1) The underground part with 3 to 5 salt caverns, production strings and well-heads that are connected to the main processing facilities by intra-field pipelines.
2) The gas processing facilities: compression/expansion of gas, drying of gas (heaters and coolers), gas flow measurement and control systems.
3) Pipelines connecting the facility to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline and possibly to other local grid transmission systems – for example, the planned Ionian Adriatic Pipeline (IAP) or Western Balkan Ring (WBR) (see the illustraton above).
Unique and feasible gas storage option
TAP has conducted a preliminary assessment of the geological potential for the creation of underground natural gas storage in Albania. The investigations to date have indicated that the creation of salt caverns in the Dumre salt formation is technically possible. Also the size of the Dumre salt dome allows for the future development of additional salt caverns.
Once the investment decision on the Trans Adriatic Pipeline project has been reached, the plans for the gas storage facility can be developed further and in more detail. It will include drilling three prospective wells for detailed investigation. Once the wells prove to be suitable for gas storage purposes, the engineering of the facilities will begin.
The start-up of the gas storage facility is currently estimated for the end of 2019.