Brief history of natural gas storage in Romania
The first attempt to create an underground storage facility for natural gas, to take over the surplus production from the warm season, was at Ilimbav, Sibiu County, in 1958. At that time, after consuming 50% of the initial recoverable reserves of gas, an injection - withdrawal cycle was initiated and further developed. Thus, between 1961 and 1985, the total amount of gas stored in this structure was 1,194 million m3, and the quantities of gas stored annually ranged between 30 and 65 million m3. In 1985, due to technical problems, this storage facility was abandoned.
In 1979, the first modern storage facility was developed in a depleted natural gas field in Urziceni, in order to ensure both the continuous take-over of imported natural gas throughout the year and the natural gas supply for Bucharest during the cold season. Urziceni had a capacity of about 100 million m3/cycle. By digging new wells and enhancing the compressors capacity, the volume of natural gas that could be stored increased to about 360 million m3/cycle.
Later, after 1983, new storage capacities were developed at Bilciureşti, Butimanu, Bălăceanca, Sărmăşel, Cetatea de Baltă, Gherceşti and Târgu Mureş, so that the natural gas storage capacity in Romania increased to approximately 3 billion m3 in 2017.
Starting from April 1st, 2018, SNGN ROMGAZ SA has unbundled its storage activities, according to Directive 2009/73/CE of the European Parliament and of the Council of July 13th 2009 and to the Electricity and Natural Gas Law no. 123/2012, art. 141, and DEPOGAZ Ploiesti Subsidiary SRL has taken over License no. 1942/2014 (transferred from SNGN ROMGAZ SA) for operating the natural gas underground storage system. The Underground Gas Storage Subsidiary DEPOGAZ Ploiesti SRL is completely owned by SNGN ROMGAZ SA.
DEPOGAZ is a modern company with a rich experience in underground storage of natural gas. It is the main storage operator in Romania with a share of approximately 90.23% of the total active storage capacity of Romania. DEPOGAZ operates five underground storages in order to:
► cover peak demand and fluctuating demand;
► correct the functional parameters of the gas transport system ( pressures, flows);
► supplement deliveries in extreme situations (accidents, natural hazards etc.).
The underground storage facilities operated by DEPOGAZ are:
► Bilciurești - active capacity: 1,310 mil. m3/cycle;
► Urziceni - active capacity: 360 mil. m3/cycle;
► Bălăceanca - active capacity: 50 mil. m3/cycle;
► Sărmășel - active capacity: 900 mil. m3/cycle;
► Ghercești - active capacity: 150 mil. m3/cycle;
Total active capacity: approx. 2,770 mil. m3/cycle.
Forecast on underground storage of natural gas
In the context of the European Commission's initiatives and communications regarding the EU common strategy for liquefied natural gas and natural gas storage and following the dialogues between the European Parliament, the European Council, the European Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee, the following trends are emerging:
► to enhance interconnections and regulations in order to improve the level of regional cooperation, and to facilitate the cross-border and regional availability of existing storage capacities;
► to modernize the existing natural gas storage capacities with an increase of flexibility, along with the use of multi-cycle storage capacities, thus contributing to the creation of a competitive market and to the development of energy markets and regional mechanisms of energy security, according to the common rules of the European Union.