Feasibility of Underground Storage of Liquefied Methane
- D.A. Flanagan (Texas Petroleum Research Committee) | Paul B. Crawford (Texas Petroleum Research Committee)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- June 1960
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 73 - 76
- 1960. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 1.2.3 Rock properties, 4.6 Natural Gas, 4.3.4 Scale, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers
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A study has been made of the feasibility of storing liquid methane at low pressures in underground caverns. Methane liquefies at - 258F at atmospheric pressure. It is shown that the methane evaporation rates will rapidly decrease and cool the surrounding rock so that at the end of one month they would be between 50 Mcf/hr for a cavern of 25-ft radius and 700 Mcf/hr for a cavern of 100-ft radius. At the end of 10 years, the evaporation rates would be 18 and 100 Mcf/hr, respectively, for caverns of the same radii. The evaporation rates may be reduced by a factor of 2 to 10 by the application of insulation.
The cost for mining the caverns is estimated to be $.75 to $1.25/Mcf of storage. This is substantially less than surface storage; it is believed to be safer and to result in lower maintenance, savings in space and savings in strategic materials.
During the past few years, there has been an increasing interest in the economic feasibility of liquefying methane. Methane liquefaction is being considered for tanker transport; in addition, liquefaction is being reconsidered for shaving peak gas demands. Several articles have described natural gas liquefaction and the progress of the tanker in making trial runs from the United States to Great Britain to determine the feasibility of tanker transport.
At the present time, pipelines are not designed to supply peak gas loads during extremely cold periods such as are often encountered in the North and Northeast. Gas is being stored in underground reservoirs enroute to its destination, but in many instances satisfactory storage in porous reservoirs has not been practical, especially along the Eastern seaboard where few petroleum reservoirs have been found. In England and other foreign countries, it is unlikely that satisfactory porous structures could be found, and it may be desirable to mine or excavate the rock to obtain storage. By storing the methane near the consumption point, product availability can be increased during periods of need.
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