Written by Dan McVey, Vice President & Chief Operating Officer – Gas Operations
The Energy Cooperative operates three underground natural gas storage fields on our transmission system. Located in Muskingum and Perry counties, these fields hold enough gas to provide our base load supply for natural gas, as well as, some peak demand capability. During any given winter month, as much as half of all our natural gas supply may come from our storage fields. This gas supply provides our members with reliability and protection from price volatility when the demand is particularly high.
Demand for natural gas is usually higher during the winter months because it is used for heat in both residential and commercial settings. Natural gas storage is needed for meeting seasonal demand requirements and as insurance against unforeseen price spikes or supply disruptions. Unlike oil and other liquid fuels like propane, natural gas isn’t stored in tanks. Instead it’s typically stored in underground storage facilities built specifically for this purpose. Depleted gas production fields are the most common type of storage facility.
Stored natural gas plays a vital role in ensuring that any excess supply delivered to us during the summer months is available to meet the increased demand of the winter months. Typically, natural gas is put into storage during the summer months (from April through October) and withdrawn during the winter from (November to March). The recent trend towards natural gas electric generation facilities has increased the demand for natural gas during the summer months.
Base load storage is used to meet seasonal demand increases. Base load facilities can hold enough natural gas to satisfy our long-term seasonal demand requirements. These storage reservoirs are relatively low-deliverability, meaning the natural gas that can be extracted each day is limited. Instead, these facilities provide a prolonged, steady supply of natural gas.
Peak load storage, on the other hand, is designed to have high-deliverability for short periods of time, meaning natural gas can be withdrawn from storage quickly should the need arise. Peak load facilities are intended to meet sudden, short-term demand increases.
Natural gas storage plays a vital role in maintaining the reliability of supply needed to meet the needs of our members. Storage is a buffer between production, transmission and distribution. This buffer helps us ensure adequate supplies of natural gas are in place for seasonal demand shifts and unexpected surges. Natural gas in storage also serves as insurance against any unforeseen accidents, natural disasters, or other occurrences that may affect the production or delivery of natural gas. In addition to serving those purposes, natural gas storage is also used for cost advantages; storing gas when prices are low and withdrawing when market prices are higher to hedge against gas cost increase.
The bottom line is that we work hard to ensure our natural gas supply meets your needs throughout the entire year. When you run natural gas appliances, or turn on your furnace, we want to ensure everything works without disruption. This reliable natural gas service takes a great amount of planning and work behind the scenes. It’s work we have been doing for years. We are proud to provide our members with safe and reliable natural gas.