Cedigaz, the international association focused on natural gas statistics, forecasts that nearly 200 new underground storage sites will likely be built around the world in coming years as natural gas becomes an increasingly favored fuel.
As of Oct. 1, 638 underground gas storages (UGS) were in operation worldwide, representing a total working capacity of 328.9 Bcm (10.7% of global gas consumption). The U.S. has the most by far with 395 sites.
Europe ranks second with 129, more than half in Germany (47), France (15), and Italy (10).
The remaining UGS facilities are in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which holds 50 sites (half in Russia), and in Asia/Oceania (five in Japan, four in Australia, two in China and one in Taiwan).
Cedigaz identified 199 new underground storage facilities or expansions of existing ones that are either under construction, under development, or planned. Most are in Europe with 123 projects (62%) representing more than 75 Bcm of additional working capacity, compared to the current 82 Bcm available. Cedigaz said this could mean the addition of 80 Bcm of working gas by 2015.
In the U.S., 47 sites were identified. Mexico also plans to develop two new UGS facilities. Brazil began a feasibility study for an aquifer storage in 2002 which is still undeveloped. Uruguay also planned to develop an aquifer in Santa Lucia for several years. Chile and Venezuela are also considering developing future underground storage.
In the CIS, 13 projects are ongoing: six in Russia, three in Belarus, two in Azerbaijan, one in Armenia, and one in Georgia where Socar intends to develop the country’s first storage facility with 300 MMcm of working capacity. In Asia/Oceania, eight projects were identified.