Advanced Underground Gas Storage Concepts: Refrigerated-Mined Cavern Storage, Final Report
Limited demand and high cost has prevented the construction of hard rock caverns in this country for a number of years. The storage of natural gas in mined caverns may prove technically feasible if the geology of the targeted market area is suitable; and economically feasible if the cost and convenience of service is competitive with alternative available storage methods for peak supply requirements. It is believed that mined cavern storage can provide the advantages of high delivery rates and
... delivery rates and multiple fillwithdrawal cycles in areas where salt cavern storage is not possible. In this research project, PB-KBB merged advanced mining technologies and gas refrigeration techniques to develop conceptual designs and cost estimates to demonstrate the commercialization potential of the storage of refrigerated natural gas in hard rock caverns. Five regions of the U.S.A. were studied for underground storage development and PB-KBB reviewed the literature to determine if the geology of these regions was suitable for siting hard rock storage caverns. Area gas market conditions in these regions were also studied to determine the need for such storage. Based on an analysis of many factors, a possible site was determined to be in Howard and Montgomery Counties, Maryland. The area has compatible geology and a gas industry infrastructure for the nearby market populous of Baltimore and Washington D.C.. As Gas temperature is lowered, the compressibility of the gas reaches an optimum value. The compressibility of the gas, and the resultant gas density, is a function of temperature and pressure. This relationship can be used to commercial advantage by reducing the size of a storage cavern for a given working volume of natural gas. This study looks at this relationship and and the potential for commercialization of the process in a storage application. A conceptual process design, and cavern design were developed for various operating conditions. Potential site locations were considered and a typical plant layout was developed. In addition a geomechanical review of the proposed cavern design was performed, evaluating the stability of the mine rooms and shafts, and the effects of the refrigerated gas temperatures on the stability of the cavern. Capital and operating cost estimates were also developed for the various temperature cases considered.