Deep underground caves in Cheshire which now store gas will officially open today.
Lord Deighton, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury is due to hail the Stublach gas store’s “crucial role” for British energy security at a ceremony later today.
So far two salt caverns at gas firm Storengy’s Stublach site are used and they can store up 40 million cubic metres (mcm) which is now available to the UK gas market.
Another three will be hooked up to the gas market by the end of December 2014, boosting capacity to 100mcm.
Eventually as much as 400mcm could be stashed in the caverns, making Stublach the second largest gas storage site in the country but still well behind the biggest, Centrica Storage’s Rough site in the North Sea.
To put this in perspective, it’s still a fraction of the total storage in the UK which previously stood at 4.6 billion cubic metres, while the UK guzzled 78 billion cubic metres in 2013, according to DECC figures.
How does Stublach fit in with the UK’s other gas storage?
Stublach is not the only gas store in Cheshire salt caverns, as E.ON owns one there too at Holford.
This brings the total of gas storage sites in the UK to nine, with others run by SSE, EDF Trading and ScottishPower, including National Grid’s liquid natural gas site.
Lord Deighton is expected to say: “Sites like Storengy at Stublach play a crucial role in our energy security strategy, allowing gas suppliers and others the flexibility to store gas safely in preparation for when demand is high, or when other supplies are restricted.”
Jean Claude Depail, GDF SUEZ’s Executive Vice-President for Infrastructures will add: “Stublach is the first investment in the UK for our gas storage business… the first salt caverns are now full of gas and already contributing to the security of supply of natural gas across the UK.”
The project has also continued the Cheshire tradition of salt mining to create the caverns, according to Storengy UK’s Managing Director Charlotte Roule.