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Underground storage in Lined Rock Caverns

A growing need
With the increase of natural gas consumption, the need for new LNG import terminals with significant storage capacity is a critical aspect due to environmental constraints and, quite often, land restriction in the areas of interest. In this perspective, can provide underground an adequate To this end, Geostock, in collaboration with Saipem-sa and SK Engineering & Construction has developed a technology which allows to store large quantities of LNG at -160 in Underground Mined Rock Cavern in a safe and economically attractive manner. storage solution.

A successful experimentation
A pilot plant built to validate the concept From 2003 to 2005, this concept has of a been validated with the design, construction and operation pilot plant in South Korea with the storage of Liquid Nitrogen at -196 C. Instrumentation has been installed to survey both operation parameters and rockmass thermohydro-mechanical behaviour. The results and data collected during a one-year operation of this pilot plant allowed us to validate the design, to set up criteria and engineering methods and to refine construction methodologies applicable for any type of LNG terminal. The main findings of the pilot plant: drainage system capable to desaturate and resaturate the fissured rockmass, no damages of the rockmass, temperature variation and boil off rate estimates similar to predictions, no degradation of the containment system efficiency.

Why storing LNG underground?

Storing LNG underground provides advantages that can not be obtained with tank technologies. Cost effectiveness Investment and operating costs are quite attractive as compared with conventional surface tanks. One of the reasons is that underground storage minimizes the total space required for LNG terminals and can therefore represent a huge cost saving especially in industrial areas. Environmental acceptability Underground installations are discreet and the visual impact is reduced. protection and Therefore, there is no need of large reclaimed areas and less earthworks at ground level. This involves a better acceptability by the population located nearby the storage. Safety and Security Owing to its depth, its multi-containment barrier (steel membrane, concrete, frozen rock) and the safety of the systems connecting the storage to the surface, the storage facility is very well protected from outside events such as accidents, sabotage or terrorism acts and has lower vulnerability to natural events such as earthquakes.

Capital cost (per m3)




100-150 000 m3 200-300 000 m3 300-450 000 m3




LNG carriers for over 30 years. The thermal characteristics and thickness of the insulation is designed in order to achieve allowable minimum temperature in the rockmass for the design life of the storage and a boil-off rate of less than 0.1% per day. A drainage system is used the first months of operation before the rock is frozen to: avoid water intrusion in the containment, The concept combines two well-proven prevent hydrostatic pressure acting against the containment. A dedicated water drainage system made of boreholes drilled from the surface and/or dedicated drainage galleries installed around the cavern allows controlling the hydrostatic This containment system ensures: LNG containment Rock protection against very low temperature. Process, equipment, monitoring and control The concept consists in protecting the host rock against the extreme low temperature and in providing a liquid and gas tight liner using a corrugated stainless steel membrane fixed on insulating panels and a concrete lining. A similar containment system has been used in during storage operation are similar to aboveground tanks. The piping for LNG loading/ unloading and cavern instrumentation passes through a shaft sealed with a concrete plug embedded in the rockmass and supporting the weight of the whole lines. pressure and the ice formation in the rock mass during the cooling down process. technologies: the storage of gaseous and liquid hydrocarbons underground in mined rock caverns, the membrane containment used for conventional LNG tanks and ocean carriers.

An original concept

Concrete lining + Containment system erection

LNG Filling + 0C propagation

Ice ring formation

Geostock is an international engineering group with over 40 years of experience and know-how in the design, construction and operation of all types of underground storage facilities for liquid, liquefied and gaseous hydrocarbons. For the development of LNG underground storage, Geostock has partneered with Saipemsa and SK Engineering & Construction Ltd.

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