Written by Pat McGonagle, Vice President & Chief Financial Officer
Did you know natural gas can be stored underground for future consumption? Storage fields (or depleted gas reservoirs) are the most prominent and common form of underground storage. They are typically natural gas wells that have produced all their economically recoverable gas and are readily capable of holding injected natural gas. Using these wells has proven to be economically attractive because start-up costs for a storage facility are eliminated by taking advantage of existing space, gathering systems and pipeline connections. Depleted reservoirs are also attractive because their geological and physical characteristics have already been studied and are well known.
The Energy Cooperative utilizes three on-system storage fields in order to balance the seasonal requirements of natural gas for our members. The three storage fields are Perry, Zane and Muskie. Their capacity is 2 Bcf (billion cubic feet) which equates to nearly one third of the annual system usage throughout our cooperative. The Zane and Perry fields were developed in the mid 1950’s primarily to meet the seasonal needs of our increased residential load during that time period. The company’s residential load continued to grow through the 60’s and 70’s and contributed to the need for the Muskie storage field beginning in 1973. The cooperative’s three gas storage fields are located close to our transportation infrastructure (pipelines and distribution systems) which also helps control the transmission costs of getting the product to our members.