Dutch court orders delay in Bergermeer gas storage project

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. said work on its natural gas storage project at Bergermeer in the Netherlands has been suspended due to a court order filed over environmental fears.

“It is still too early to say but, based on the current information, we will not have full operations in 2014,” said a TAQA spokesman, who said the firm must halt the drilling additional wells needed to make the facility operational.

“Cushion gas injection was not part of the injunction proceedings and will continue as per plan,” the spokesman noted, saying that the expectation is that “all cushion gas will be injected as per plan before Apr. 1, 2014.”

The existing site in the Bergermeer area, which was formerly used to extract the gas from the reservoir, already has nine wells. TAQA plans to reuse six of the existing wells, in addition to drilling 14 more to a depth of 2,500 m.

However, the court of the Dutch Council of State ordered the suspension of the additional construction work at the project after environmentalists and local residents expressed concerns that the process of injecting gas would cause tremors in the area.

TAQA obtained permits for the gas storage project in May, but after hearing the opposition views the Dutch court decided to suspend what it called all “irreversible” preparatory work until a final verdict is rendered following the 6-month period of appeal.

TAQA took the court’s ruling in stride, saying, "There is still strong support for the project and we are confident in receiving a positive final verdict."

Once operational, Bergermeer Gas Storage will be capable of storing 9 billion cu m of gas. According to TAQA, more than 4 billion cu m of the total capacity will be used as working volume by companies that want to store gas at the facility.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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