It is a common practice in the natural gas industry to use sites of former gas or oil reservoirs for storage uses. These natural gas storage sites are a key component of natural gas transportation and distribution networks, since they facilitate the balancing of supply, which is relatively stable and limited by transportation network capabilities, and demand, which varies based on the weather. To ensure gas network efficiency and reliability, natural gas is stored near consumption zones in low demand periods in order to be able to meet the increased demand in winter.

Role of Storing Natural Gas

The role of storing natural gas can be grouped into two main categories: operational and commercial.

From an operational standpoint, natural gas storage is a valuable tool for offsetting supply/demand imbalances. Given the considerable investments involved in producing and transporting natural gas, it is best to maintain a stable, steady supply year long. For example, the transportation network users aim for a 100 % load factor (daily use divided by peak use) resulting in lower operating costs.

On the other hand, demand for natural gas fluctuates from one day to the next for a host of reasons, namely weather. Storage sites are therefore tools that make it possible to efficiently offset seasonal and daily imbalances between supply and demand.

Storing natural gas near consumption centers also increases security of supply.

From a commercial perspective, storing natural gas makes it possible to take advantage of business opportunities available on the market. For example, storing natural gas allows companies to reduce supply costs by buying and injecting gas in the summer when demand and prices are low, and extracting it in winter when demand and prices are higher.

Types of Storage

Depleted reservoirs, aquifers or salt caverns: these are the most common storage sites, but they require very specific and thus rare geological configurations, hence the importance of geophysics and the drilling process in the identification of potential sites. The type of reservoirs used depends on the geological formations available.