^ Underground gas storage (UGS) facilities are created in depleted hydrocarbon fields, aquifers, or salt caverns. Such UGS facilities provide 20–40 per cent of gas supplied by Gazprom during the heating season.
Article By Daniel Sweet
The Russian energy company Gazprom owns and operates the world’s largest gas transmission system, with a total length of 172,600 kilometers. More than half of the company’s customers are located inside Russia, while exports are spread over 30 countries. As part of their extensive energy network, known as the Unified Gas Supply Stream, Gazprom operates a number of underground gas storage (UGS) facilities in high-consumption areas. These UGS facilities supply 20-40 percent of Gazprom’s supply during heating season.
In a recent press release, Gazprom announced a 36 percent increase in maximum daily deliverability during 2019-2020, as compared to the 2009–2010 withdrawal season, with a total of 843.3 million cubic meters supplied. The document attributed this increase to Gazprom’s extensive use of UGS. Given the effectiveness of UGS, the press release also signaled continued investment in the technology, and by the 2030–2031 season, Gazprom hopes to raise daily deliverability by approximately 200 million cubic meters, surpassing the 1 billion cubic meter mark. UGS facilities are referenced as central to the company’s plans going forward, and Gazprom is already in the process of expanding a number of Russian UGS facilities built atop salt cavern formations, including the pioneering Kaliningradskoye site.
Kaliningradskoye is located in Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave on the Baltic Sea. With four storage reservoirs currently in operation and fourteen additional reservoirs in planning phases, Kaliningradskoye is a prime site of UGS development in Gazprom’s network. The facility is Russia’s first salt cavern UGS facility. Gazprom’s website describes a number of advantages in the use of salt caverns for UGS: “salt caverns are ideal leak-proof containers thanks to their gas-tight salt domes. Besides, the self-healing capacity of rock salt suppresses fractures and faults. Moreover, it is possible to rapidly switch Kaliningradskoye from injection to withdrawal and vice versa (multiple cycling capability), as well as bringing the UGS facility to its peak performance within the shortest possible time.
European build up
With expansion in Russia currently underway, Gazprom also continues to build up its presence in Europe, often through coinvesting schemes undertaken with other partners. Gazprom’s stated aim with its associated European facilities is to achieve a working gas capacity of at least 5 per cent of the annual exports. Efforts are underway to expand Gazprom’s holdings at the Damborice UGS facility in the Czech Republic, as well as the Katharina and Jemgum UGS facilities in Germany.
Other European UGS sites utilized by Gazprom include Etzel and Rehden in Germany, Haidach in Austria, Bergermeer in the Netherlands, and Banatski Dvor in Serbia.