Natural Gas Storage
Underground Natural Gas Storage Facilities (UNGSF) are an extremely important part of the Energy Storage calculation. Although releases of gas to the atmosphere are rare, they do happen. Monitoring these systems for infrastructure leakage is becoming increasingly important both at the surface and deep below the surface. We concentrate our efforts on monitoring below the surface and preventing leaks before they ever happen. Providing critical health, safety and environment support to our clients helps us operate within our core values.
Monitor the Systems
DIG develops novel approaches to assess wellbores and model the boundaries of gas storage in the subsurface using naturally occurring geochemical and isotopic tracers. This low-cost method directly fingerprints injected and native natural gas and fluids using compositional and isotopic analyses. Our products and services developed improve detection of well integrity and, importantly, reduce near-surface hydrocarbon impacts of potable and agricultural aquifers. Monitoring of these wells should occur at regular intervals and is expected to become a regulatory requirement in the future due to environmental incidents. As the regulatory framework becomes more stringent, development of sampling methods, analytical protocols, and interpretive tools are needed. The market sector will embrace technology advancements that keep pace with natural gas storage infrastructure upgrades in the upcoming decade. The natural gas storage sector can affect the public and our environment in a positive way by dovetailing these ideas.
The Infrastructure is Old and Getting Older
Energy Information Agency (EIA) has estimated that natural gas storage has grown 16% over the last decade1. An important note is that the oil and gas sector has been replacing aging infrastructure while the natural gas storage sector has been slow to replace current infrastructure. In fact, according to Michanowicz, et. al., 2017, current natural gas infrastructure repurposed from oil and gas wells has an average age of 74 years2. We think that the incident at Aliso Canyon and the resultant federal regulatory changes will illicit more aggressive changes in well infrastructure in the upcoming years.
Dedicated to the Social Contract
UNGSFs play an important role in current energy supply, distribution systems and in keeping consumer energy costs consistent and predictable. Environmental, health and safety practices are important components of the industry with the Federal regulation of UNGSFs adopting a final rule (49 CFR 191, 192, and 195)3 to amend its minimum safety standards. This was largely in response to the incident at the SoCalGas operated facility and Aliso Canyon SS #25 catastrophic methane release. DIG believes that the role of UNGSFs in transitional energy storage will expand significantly in the future. We serve all sectors of energy storage. We are dedicated to supporting those operators that are dedicated to the social contract.
- Energy Information Administration. “The Basics of Underground Natural Gas Storage”. eia.gov, November 16, 2015, https://www.eia.gov/naturalgas/storage/basics/
- Michanowicz, Drew R., et al. “A national assessment of underground natural gas storage: identifying wells with designs likely vulnerable to a single-point-of-failure.” Environmental Research Letters 12.6 (2017): 064004
- Federal Register. “Pipeline Safety: Safety of Underground Natural Gas Storage Facilities”. gov, February 12, 2020, https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/02/12/2020-00565/pipeline-safety-safety-of-underground-natural-gas-storage-facilities