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Because of the large distances between the production fields and the consumers technical and economic issues make it impossible to balance the large seasonal fluctuations in demand. To guarantee a balance between the flat flow of Natural Gas which is purchased and the volatile demand of the customers it is necessary to store the natural gas.
Gas storage in surface storage facilities, so-called high pressure gas tanks or pipe storage facilities, is inadequate because of the very limited capacity that is available. Much larger storage volumes can be provided underground – and here we basically distinguish between two different types of underground storage facilities.
The utilization of natural gas storage facilities guarantees stable availability of this environment-friendly energy medium by balancing out natural gas production and consumption. During peak consumption periods additional natural gas volumes can be injected into the network and during times of low demand any surplus volumes can be stored. Volumes not used in the summer period could be injected in such a facility and then later on withdrawn to supply customers in the high-consumption winter months. This is described as seasonal adjustment. In addition to the original long-term task of seasonal adjustment storage facilities are also becoming increasingly sought after to optimize the natural gas portfolio.