Statoil, partners to expand European gas storage

Statoil AS is preparing to double the capacity of the Etzel natural gas storage facility in northern Germany and possibly its Aldbrough gas store in England.

Uchenna Izundu
International Editor

LONDON, May 9 -- Statoil AS is preparing to double the capacity of the Etzel natural gas storage facility in northern Germany, said Tor Martin Anfinnesen, senior vice-president of natural gas, trading, and operations. Statoil uses the 500 million cu m gas store to support its gas production from the Norwegian continental shelf.

IVG, Etzel's owner and technical operator, has agreed to extend the lease to Statoil and its partners, which might also enlarge the store's capacity beyond the initial expansion, Statoil said.

"We want to increase the injection and extraction rates, but no decision has yet been taken," Anfinnesen said at a Statoil business update seminar in London.

Statoil Deutschland operates the Etzel gas store with a 20.1% interest in the existing storage capacity. Other companies utilizing Etzen are: E.ON Ruhrgas AG, Hydro Energie Deutschland, Total Etzel Gaslager, and ConocoPhillips Germany.

Anfinnesen added that the company expects OAO Gazprom to become a much more active player in the short-term gas market, because it is constructing the 27.5 billion cu m/year Nord Stream pipeline from Vyborg on Russia's Baltic Coast to the Greifswald region on Germany's Baltic Coast, and the pipeline will be near the gas store. The pipeline is expected to start operations in 2010, and its capacity will later be doubled to 55 billion cu m/year.

Norwegian gas has been stored at Etzel since 1993 from such sources as the Kårstø processing plant north of Stavanger. Etzel is near the landfall terminals for Norwegian gas at Dornum and Emden in northern Germany and is connected to the German transport network.

Aldbrough expansion
Separately, Statoil expects to receive a planning committee decision during the second quarter for a second 420-million cu m expansion phase of its proposed Aldbrough gas store in England. Statoil and Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) have acquired land adjacent to the existing Aldbrough site, which is under development.

Phase I, for 420 million cu m of storage capacity, is more than 80% complete and within its budgeted cost of £250 million. SSE will have the rights to 280 million cu m of gas storage and Statoil to 140 million cu m. "First commercial operation with three out of the nine caverns is expected in winter 2007-08," Statoil said.

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