Why more gas storage is needed

Why do we need it?

Natural gas production in the UK is in significant decline, and the UK became a net importer of gas in 2004.

The UK is the world’s fifth largest consumer of gas, and by 2020, the UK could be importing 70 percent of its gas. To insure against interruptions to supply, for example in the well-publicised winter cold snaps of recent years, the UK needs to increase its gas storage capacity. By storing gas in underground caverns in the UK, we will be better able to meet the future demands for gas.

Gas storage improves the ability to cope with emergencies and seasonal and daily variations in gas demand, highlighted in January 2010 and 2011 when the UK experienced the worst winters on record for three decades.

Gas storage in the UK & Europe

Natural gas storage in salt caverns is a mature industry. Gas has been safely stored in underground salt caverns since the early 1960s, and there are currently approximately 70 salt storage facilities around the world, with many more under construction.

Gas storage in salt caverns is a mature industry with an unblemished safety record: there has never been a recorded failure of natural gas escaping from caverns in the UK.

Salt cavern gas storage facilities are currently in operation within the UK in both Cheshire and Yorkshire and are very common in Europe (especially in Germany). The Hornsea facility in Yorkshire has been in use since 1973 and further facilities are currently being built at Holford in Cheshire, Aldbrough in Yorkshire and in Devon.

Gas can be stored in depleted or depleting reservoir rocks of former oil and gas fields, where gas is injected back into the reservoir from which oil, and/or gas has been removed. A second option is salt cavity storage, where cavities are created in underground salt strata by dissolving some salt to form a pressure vessel and filling the vessel with gas.

Preesall’s geography is unique and it is one of the only places in the UK where underground gas storage in salt is possible. Extensive investigations have shown that the salt is sufficiently thick here to create new caverns which would be ideally suited for safely storing gas.

More about ‘Why Preesall?’

Read more about the project in our leaflet, Securing the UK’s Energy Future

By increasing the UK’s gas storage capacity, we can help bring down escalating gas prices and be better prepared for the cold winters of recent years.