Because demand for natural gas fluctuates based on what season it is, finding adequate storage for that gas during periods of low demand is vital to ensuring that the resource does not go to waste.
Demand for natural gas is typically higher during the cold months of winter because of the need for heat in both residential homes and commercial buildings. By storing it during the summer, a surplus of natural gas can be built up for winter. Storing natural gas also serves as insurance in the event of an accident or natural disaster that disrupts the production of natural gas.
Underground reservoirs are the most common type of storage for natural gas. These kind of storage units consist of depleted gas reservoirs and salt cavern reservoirs.
Depleted gas reservoirs serve as storage facilities through a process that requires the natural gas to be injected into the pores of the underground rock from which the gas first originated. Salt caverns are considered a strong method of storage because salt is impermeable and self-sealing. Salt caverns can also extend more than 1,000 feet underground, allowing for a significant amount of storage space.
Aquifers are another example of underground reservoirs used for storage of natural gas. These are underground rock formations that act as natural water reservoirs, due in large part to their porous and permeable nature. Reconditioning of the rocks is required before these formations can serve as storage facilities, and in-depth analysis of the geological characteristics must first take place to determine whether the formations are suitable for storage purposes.
As we mentioned in a previous blog post, natural gas can also be refrigerated and converted to liquid form for storage. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is considered a more efficient method of natural gas storage because it is denser than natural gas and holds more energy for the space it occupies.