Since 2008, one of the most modern cavern storage facilities in Germany was built in the North German Rheiderland region directly next to the Ems river. Ownership of this state-of-the-art gas storage facility is held by WINGAS together with VNG Gasspeicher. In 2013, the commissioning of the first cavern and the gas operating facility was celebrated. Now the construction of the fully automated, emission-optimized plant has finished. The last cavern has been brined (controlled dissolution of rock salt through injection of water during the mining process) and commissioned, and the last fittings have been installed. The storage is operated jointly by astora and VNG Gasspeicher. Five sixths of the total storage capacities are merchandised by astora, one sixths by VNG Gasspeicher.
900 million cubic meters working gas volume
10 caverns with a working gas volume of approx. 900 million cubic meters have been created with a depth of up to 1,500 metres. "One of the caverns, the K 1-2, with a cavity volume of 870,000 cubic meters is one of the largest in Germany," explains Karsten König, Underground Project Manager.
Additional interesting facts and figures:
- area of the gas storage is about 40 football pitches
- astora has mined 13 million tonnes of salt over a 12 year construction phase– a multiple of the annual salt consumption of Germany
- 45 million tonnes of brine water were removed
- over 30 kilometres of pipes have been installed in the wells
- 6.1 million cubic meters of cavities have been created
- during the peak construction phase, up to 500 workers from over 20 different companies worked on the site at the same time
- a construction camp was set up for this purpose, consisting of over 140 containers
A tour de force
The Jemgum project offered many challenges. To stay on schedule, the brine was transported in a slightly less conventional way by ship, instead of via a brine transport pipeline. Over four months, two tankers transported the brine, which was produced during the cavern construction, from the storage facility to the landing pier in Rysum. There the brine was discharged into the North Sea via the approved discharge point. The geology was also a major challenge for the project team, as the density of the salt rock during the drilling often proved to be different from the expected.
Since the surrounding Rheiderland is an important conservation area, intensive research and work was carried out to ensure environmental compatibility complied with legal requirements even before the first sod was turned. For example, construction work to connect the storage facility to the gas transport network was only carried out outside the bird breeding season and special natural lighting was chosen for the operating site. Extended sound insulation ensured that residents and wildlife were not disturbed by the storage facility operation.
"Construction of the storage facility was a tour de force that we successfully completed despite many uncertainties," says Arkadius J. Binia, Technical Director at astora and overall Project Manager Jemgum. "astora is proud to have made such a significant contribution to the Gazprom Group's portfolio with the construction of the Jemgum storage facility".
The Jemgum natural gas storage facility is strategically well located in the European gas transport system. It plays an essential role in the German market area GASPOOL and benefits from connecting to the Netherlands gas transport system. This means that natural gas from the Jemgum storage facility can also be forwarded to neighbouring Western European countries.
The long-term storage contracts at the Jemgum storage facility have also made it possible to maintain a comparatively good level of earnings over the last few years. astora has used this time to develop new flexible short-term products.
Eduard Schmitke, Managing Director of astora, is optimistic: "The Jemgum storage facility can benefit from its strategic location, as natural gas production in the Netherlands is sharply declining, and storage facilities with a connection to the Dutch grid will therefore be in demand to ensure security of supply. astora is well positioned for the future".