Environmental and safety monitoring of the natural gas underground storage at Stenlille, Denmark
T. Laier, H. Øbro, 2009. "Environmental and safety monitoring of the natural gas underground storage at Stenlille, Denmark", Underground Gas Storage: Worldwide Experiences and Future Development in the UK and Europe, D. J. Evans, R. A. Chadwick
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The Stenlille natural gas underground storage is located 70 km SE of Copenhagen and has been in operation since 1989. For safety reasons and to protect the environment it is necessary to monitor the storage carefully. Natural gas is being stored in an anticlinal structure with an expected gas storage capacity of about 3 billion Nm3 (volume under ‘normal’ conditions) in the upper Triassic Gassum Sandstone Formation 1500–1600 m below the surface; it replaces saline formation water. So far, nineteen deep wells have been drilled on and around the structure. The 300 m thick clay sequence of the Lower Jurassic Fjerritslev Formation above the gas storage reservoir has acted as an efficient seal, since no sign of gas leakage has been observed in the monitoring well located in a sand stringer 15 m above the gas reservoir. Other monitoring wells have been located in order to check for possible lateral escape of natural gas. A baseline study on naturally occurring hydrocarbons performed before the natural gas storage came into operation indicated the presence of only trace amounts hydrocarbon gases in the subsurface of the Stenlille area. Results of analysis by the headspace and sorbed gas methods on drill-cuttings suggest that low-temperature thermal generation of hydrocarbon gases (δ13C1: −47 to −42‰; δ13C2: −34 to −30‰) has taken place in organic-rich marine shale below 1300 m. Low concentrations of dissolved methane (<0.5 mg/l) of bacterial origin (δ13C1: −90 to −62‰) were found in shallow groundwater that is used for water supply in the Stenlille area. After the start of injection of natural gas in 1989 (C1:C2:C3 = 91:6:2; δ13C1: −47‰), no increase in methane concentration and no higher hydrocarbon gases were observed during the regular analysis of groundwater from 10 shallow wells located above the underground natural gas storage. However, a sudden increase in dissolved methane concentration from 0.02 to 27 mg/l was measured in a 130 m deep observation well after a minor gas leakage had been detected at a new deep drilling into the natural gas storage in 1995. Nonetheless, no increase in methane was observed in shallow groundwater at the same locality. Occasional higher concentrations of dissolved methane (up to 15 mg/l) were encountered in shallow observation wells in low permeability layers. Stable isotope analyses (δ13C1: −69 to −52‰) and radiocarbon dating show that the gas does not originate from the underground gas storage because the methane was less than 300 years old, but it may have formed due to local microbial activity.
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The UK became a net importer of natural gas in 2004 and by 2020 will import up to 90% of its requirements, leaving it vulnerable to increasing energy bills and risk of disruption to supply. New pipelines to Europe and improvements to interconnectors will meet some demand, but Government recognizes the need for increased gas storage capacity: this may be best met by the construction of underground storage facilities. Energy security has also raised the likelihood of a new generation of coal-fired power-stations, which to be environmentally viable, will require clean-coal technologies with near-zero greenhouse gas emissions. A key element of this strategy will be underground CO2 storage. This volume reviews the technologies and issues involved in the underground storage of natural gas and CO2, with examples from the UK and overseas. The potential for underground storage of other gases such as hydrogen, or compressed air linked to renewable sources is also reviewed.