Environmental issues in permitting gas storage: The Wild Goose case history
Laurie McClenahan Hietter, 2009. "Environmental issues in permitting gas storage: The Wild Goose case history", Underground Gas Storage: Worldwide Experiences and Future Development in the UK and Europe, D. J. Evans, R. A. Chadwick
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With recent fires and explosions at Moss Bluff, Texas (2004) and Hutchinson, Kansas (2001), initial environmental review is becoming more critical for public acceptance of new underground gas storage facilities; the environmental review is especially important for gas storage fields that use depleted oil and gas fields. Components of successful environmental review and permitting include an experienced and capable project manager and technical team, sufficient and thorough data for use in understanding affected resources, monitoring data for analysing well conditions and a holistic approach to public relations.
The Wild Goose Gas Storage Field, located in Butte County, California, was developed originally in 1999, using a depleted gas field. Its initial storage capacity was 396.5 million cubic metres (Mcm, or 14 billion cubic feet, bcf). A subsequent expansion to 821.3 Mcm (29 bcf) and construction of a 41.8 km long gas pipeline were subject to a thorough environmental review and permits were approved without opposition.
An interdisciplinary team experienced in environmental review of oil and gas fields successfully completed a comprehensive environmental review of the Wild Goose Gas Storage Field expansion. Keys to successful environmental review and permitting for the Wild Goose expansion project included assembling a qualified and independent technical team, identifying potential local emission sources, understanding well integrity, defining vertical and lateral containment of the gas field and developing a thorough understanding of affected parties' concerns and the affected local environment.
The thorough approach to environmental review undertaken in the Wild Goose Gas Storage Field project can be used as a model for the permitting process applied to other gas storage fields, serving to shorten schedules, reduce project costs and lessen risk when considering new underground storage facilities.
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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.