by Jorge Vilches for the Saker blog
Sir Isaac Newton vs. the EC
There are plenty of formal peer-reviewed industry papers and articles published in specialized international oil & gas journals regarding theoretical “huge volumes” of supposed European nat-gas “reserves”. Supposedly, such reserves would “solve” the absolutely unnecessary self-inflicted European nat-gas crisis. Furthermore, there are lots of curious back-of-the-envelope ´calculations´ plus added blah blah blah with the very same prognosis in mind. And even some European Commission members are on record describing a highly optimistic outlook on how long ( months ! ) would Europe´s natural gas reserves ´easily´ last after Russia stops delivering its traditional and highly reliable (and cheap) nat-gas feedstock. The hard part though — not ever explained by bureaucratic ignoramuses — is exactly how such nat-gas reserves would be forced out of their current storage without any back-flow pressure from Russian nat-gas to push it as required by Isaac Newton´s fluid mechanics, who if alive today would obviously be a hard-core Brexiteer.
high school physics
The problem starts when ignorant fools dream up the idea that nat-gas reserves can be used as a 100% substitute for nat-gas flowing feedstocks. They simply cannot, period. Actually, God invented nat-gas reserves as a supplement to – not a substitute of – flowing nat-gas feedstocks so that in high demand season (European winter) the cheaper nat-gas reserves piled up during low consumption season (European summer) could be added to help satisfying winter´s high demand. Nat-gas reserves are good for nothing more than that and definetly not a substitute of flowing feedstocks.
enter nat-gas reserves
Obviously, it´s very hard to know exactly what type and practical-use nat-gas “storage” capabilities different European countries have available today. For sure, such nat-gas European storage facilities are heterogenous and also varying from country to country. And we also know that in this case high-school physics still do matter much. Accordingly, many / most above-ground atmospheric pressure nat-gas reserve tanks or highly pressurized subsurface caverns by themselves will not work as expected unless a backflow – even at very low flow rates and inflow pressures — is constantly maintained from the Russian pipeline source… thus pushing the stored nat-gas out. Otherwise, in the event that the Russian pipeline were completely shut-off, Newtonian physics ( how ironic ) would not allow, for example, to suction nat-gas out of its current storage as a vacuum would be drawn making outflow impossible.
no flow, how come ?
So, as suction is impossible, once Russian pipeline nat-gas inflow stops dead (which Russia intends to do…) such European stored gas would not be naturally displaced or “moved along” to elsewhere it may be needed be it for power generation or anything else. And if the Russian nat-gas backflow / push pressure were substituted by any other gas or mixtures thereof (air or otherwise) the Russian pure nat-gas already stored would soon inter-mix and dilute beyond possible practical use as European installations and equipment are contractually fine-tuned for pure Russian nat-gas, not anything else…
The proven “possible” partial solutions for this huge problem are 3 and only 3 but for which no need has ever existed to actually attempt full European daily supply. All three have serious problems, including the low volume of nat-gas that can be extracted daily does not anywhere meet current European consumption needs. So one possible solution is having a “piston-like” storage tank system whereby the nat-gas already stored is “pushed out” by a huge piston-like surface within a special “variable geometry” storage tank. We can´t know if these very special “syringe” facilities are already installed in the right places and working as needed, but most probably they are not. Usually such tanks are tiny small in comparison to what Europe now needs and only practical for occasional use in very specific industrial feedstocks. They are very rare, very small, expensive, unreliable… and difficult to operate.
the second (bad) chance
The second possibility is storing nat-gas under ultra-high pressure, either inside underground caverns or on surface tanks. These are terribly expensive as well as über-dangerous to the point of ´not-in-my-back-yard´ urban locations. These also require tons of specialized operation and maintenance. Delivery is very slow with lots of residual nat-gas always left behind. Peak demand higher speed delivery can only be maintained momentarily. And as the nat-gas is depleted the outflow pressure decreases requiring even further equipment and complications plus cumbersome facilities and expertise, etc. Nat-gas outflow necessarily means nat-gas expansion which added to freezing mid-winter conditions leads to highly complicated temperature-management issues that no one seems to know or care about. Eventually they will, trust me.
No.3 no lucky charm
The third possibility is trying to substitute the required Russian pipeline nat-gas flow (soon absent) with LNG backflow from LNG seaborne terminals to ´push out´ the Russian nat-gas stored in surface tanks or underground. But pulling such un-planned experiment would require enormous amount of time (!!!) detailed engineering, plans & specs, lots of funding, specialized personnel and equipment etc etc etc to timely hook up to the current storage tanks (or subsurface caverns) connecting them to the LNG sources which anyway are not nearly enough to cover for European needs as things now stand. So no matter how much and how hard they hurry to conclude such shambolic and highly expensive – and risky — projects of sorts, still the required LNG shipping freight fleet from far away sources is nowhere to be found while October far colder temperatures are only two weeks away.
LNG kaputt ?
Furthermore, talking about LNG terminals for whichever use or application, it is obvious that them all are necessarily risky in what engineers call “a single point of failure”. If, for whatever reasons – navigational, operational, technical, commercial or otherwise – such LNG terminals were “out of order”… as everyday Germans would say… it´d be a European LNG “kaputt”.
can run but not hide
All three storage possibilities require adequate distribution of such throughout Europe (!!!) data collection, funding, experimentation, fine tuning, developing 3D static and dynamic geological models, precise characterization of the storage behavior thru time elapsed, sensitivities analyses, risk assessments, cost-benefit calculations, feasibility studies, engineering, EU certification, commissioning, inter-connection for sharing between countries, etc. etc. etc.
So the above summarized description should have unforeseen consequences as all of the European 2 months and
3-months “winter-proof” reserves we get to hear about from smart-ass know-it-alls would probably be nonsensical without the constant push from Russian pipeline nat-gas back-flow at least at a minimum flow rate and pressure to mobilize the already stored nat-gas. So whenever we hear about supposed European nat-gas storage “reserves” please recall that such were conceived and implementable only if Russian pipeline nat-gas inflow were constantly maintained ( not anymore ) with at least a minimum inflow rate and pressure.
flatten the curve ?
Of course, we may assume that these nat-gas ´reserves´ could help out Europe somewhat somehow in yet un-defined ways. Or maybe not, and the whole idea is just to ´flatten the curve´ somewhat by stretching the narrative a bit but still freezing the EU out just two weeks later. But whichever way European nat-gas reserve volumes are diced or sliced, as the EU war against Russia is now plain obvious, this winter Europe will most probably have to do without direct sale of Russian nat-gas. Or maybe Europe does end up buying LNG originally sourced with Russian nat-gas but liquefied and sold through intermediary third parties at an unbelievably high price and only available on a hit-and-miss basis.
German “perfection” (not)
This would not be the first time that a simple yet gross mis-calculation takes place at an enormously grand scale. During WW2 the Luftwaffe infamously erred in its capabilities to air-bridge Lt. General Friedrich von Paulus isolated 6th. Army with supplies and gear to withstand and possibly overcome the Russian defenses at Stalingrad. This dramatic German failure enabled the disastrous defeat at the Battle of Stalingrad and the loss of almost one million Wehrmacht soldiers either killed, wounded, starved or imprisoned as a result of the “cauldron” the Russian Army encircled them with to achieve the shamefull German unconditional surrender.
ZomBie-den apocalypse option. USA does not sell energy to Europe because they are first:
“No Bailout Coming” – US Energy Producers Send Ominous Warning To Europe
“It’s not like the US can pump much more. Our output is what it is,” Wil VanLoh, head of private equity group Quantum Energy Partners, one of the most prominent investors in shale, told the Financial Times.
“There is no rescue coming,” VanLoh added.
“Not on the oil side, not on the gas side.
Saw that Oscar, no suprises there. The huge problemA is that all the other possible international sources would say exactly the same. Not an additional molecule more, that´s all, period. The implication is that there might not be energy sourcing available at ANY price. Because the time and the place of delivery… and the precise specification of the product(s) required are also part of the supply equation. Everything indicates that come winter 2023 diesel fuel will not be found in more than one European location. Just sayin´
Seven years ago, in 2014/2015, when teh decision was taken to go green, a deliberate decision was taken to collapse the oil and gas industry. This started with the inexplicable crash in oil prices, sending many a service company into bankruptcy. Further, having done so, many rigs were sat idle or in cold storage by 2016. With funds cut to the whole upstream world, many companies were left with no option but to sell off their inventory, fleet and very specialized and expensive equipment for scrap.
A lot of rigs were sold off as scrap metal, while service tools were either auctioned or completely decommissioned. The overall consequence was the complete removal of the capacity of a very agile industry to react if needed to increase capacity. All the while CNN and the likes were hailing the US shale miracle and the nimbleness of US shale gas or oil producers, some of us who were in the industry saw the writing on the wall. The industry had been set for execution and no amount of common sense was going to help. The end was that a lot of people walked away from the industry into other trades and hey remain till today. The industry was let on a lean regime barely sustaining enough to keep the world going while the transition lasted.
Today, with the EU running around the world to seek solutions to their energy crisis, there is no single project in the world that can be ramped up to help them, be it upstream or downstream. No amount of money thrown at the oil industry can revive it. The industry has been emasculated over the past eight years, emptied out, and there is not enough manpower, enough knowledge, enough equipment or even capital to restart or kick off new projects.
That is the true story of the industry, that was built over a century, which has made the world run and enabled industrialization, despite ensuring some countries were kept as slaves and their populace destroyed so that Uncle Sam and cohorts can access their oil. Now, where we stand, anyone with in depth knowledge of the industry can only watch, albeit with sadness, as the world goes to the dogs, and the EU leads the way to the slaughter.
It needed genius to mess up so badly. And EU politicians are truly geniuses. Albeit extremely autistic ones. Nothing can convince me that the level of stupidity and arrogance shown by this lot is not borne out of the same place in the brain that drives genius.
Tirius, you impress all of us as deeply experienced and knowledgeable in oil & gas, probably with both upstream and downstream specific experience. So please do keep posting your most valuable inputs. I also urge you to scroll down and read my comments to questions presented by Peter M. to which you also replied with great style and technical precision. You are obviously highly articulate and quite used to address the essential aspects, leaving non-essentials aside. Your instant-report wordcrafting capabilities are much needed here. You are not only worth your salt but you also know how to put it in writing with precise wording, fast.
Tirius, also please keep replying to any and all posts from our commentariati friends right here as you thoroughly enrich the much-needed debate. Internationally, many thousands in the right places will read all of this even if not cross-published elsewhere as is usual. Time is of the essence. Thanks again Tirius
Thank you Jorge for the kind words. This catastrophe in the oil world has been a personal tragedy for many I know. Many were entirely vested in it and when the industry was imploded, they ended up with skills they could use elsewhere but which very few needed. They had to scale down their lifestyle and much more.
This, in the midst of all the noise about renewables. Like many who seem to have a counteropinion or experience in today’s cancel culture, they have moved on and are sitting mum about everything. It is an unfortunate situation and there is a heavy price everyone will pay, because the opinions of many 3xperts do not fit the prescribed narrative. Unfortunately.
“there is no single project in the world that can be ramped up to help them, be it upstream or downstream.”
Russia didn’t turn its back on E&P, nor Iran and the central Asian countries. So the oil, gas, and infrastructure is there in the East if not in the West, but only the political will is missing.
You are right that Russia, Iran, Venezuela or Iraq all have extra capacity. The point I make is that they are and have been for some time under sanctions and if needed, they as single countries will be at pains to come up with enough infrastructure to launch multiple new exploration projects, nor even drill additional thousands of Wells and bring these online.
The oil or gas cycle used to take about five years from exploration to production. Today, due to lack of capital, tools, equipment and personnel, it takes much more. Thus my point about the impossibility to ramp up projects at short notice.
I true that Percy. Russia, the East at large and Central Asia have not fallen into the Western Green trap. At least not yet. Sure hope they never do. Percy, thanks for joining us in our warm abode of sorts. Cordially Jorge
Tirius, this post is one of the best I have read anywhere. Comprehensive but easy to understand.
Thanks morongobill, if true, I take that as an enormous compliment !
Take care, Jorge
I warmly and humbly invite fellow commentariati to ask about whatever I may have not explained clearly. Still, highly technical challenges to the arguments presented are also quite welcome. As devil´s advocate, I will defend on your behalf any objection(s) you may have always considering that the only “dumb” question is the question not asked. Because if you have a question it means the explanations presented were not clear enough. And that would be my bad, not yours. And if you object or challenge whatever, you may possibly be right, I would possibly be wrong, and I would openly admit it in that case. It´d be a “gotcha”, no problem with that either. It helps, trust me. Just sayin´
Thanks Jorge. It was very clear, and not something that I had previously considered.
Thanks EJ !
We´ll have to wait and see as technical people know about all these difficulties. The problem is that their voices are not heard, at least not now. They can always “patch up” the system somewhat to deliver some volumes somehow, but that is not what politicians have in mind. Extracting nat-gas from storage will not be smooth. Cordially Jorge
Exactly and I am surprised that I have not heard even one technical person comment on the nat gas tanks yet -anywhere. Are they afraid to speak out? Scared of losing their job,even if they made a comment somewhere on a post under an alias? It is disappointing that so many scientists out there have no bravery at all.
Also re single point of failure? Indeed, all it takes is one manpad to shoot an LNG ship and it would be catastrophic , almost nuclear devastation for a city. Noone needs nuclear weapons. All that is needed is an anti ship missile on a timer . Missile brought there in a container truck. Boom ! I urge your readers to read up on similar explosions like the one at Halifax Canada, Galveston Texas and one at isle of Thanet ,Britain ,all pre 1950s and just from ammunition ships.
Brother Ma, yes and yes.
Lots of terribly important stuff is being swept under the rug. People are painfully scared, schools to pay for, mortages, ends don´t meet, demolition by inflation all around, 25-year-olds living in mom & pop´s basement, etc. etc.
Still, all of the above will not solve the European self-inflicted energy problem and millions of livelihoods will be negatively affected if not “terminally” affected. Thanks for your input Brother Ma.
The Germans were the 1st ones to put moonshine in airplanes and send a bomb on it.
I would not put it past them to have an ace in the storage hole, and still come out of winter cold hungry and stiff, but alive to fight another day.
Alabama, thanks for your input, although I am not quite sure what you actually mean.
Are you referring to the Luftwaffe bombing raids on Coventry under the code name ‘Moonlight Sonata’ ?
Still, to “come out of winter cold hungry and stiff” like you say is not what current German consumer society has in mind, is it ? At any rate Germans may have aces up their sleeves (maybe, maybe not) but stored nat-gas is needed throughout Europe. So then German nat-gas storage release ingenuity would have to be distributed thoughout the continent, Poland included. Unless Germany keeps it ace in the storage hole all for itself and right there and then the much-delayed EU break-up takes place vadabooooom no ?
Jorge – Perhaps Alabama (4:25 PM) was referring to the V2 which burned alcohol. (Hardly an “airplane,” however.)
Excellent article, BTW.
Thanks John !
I see… yeah… it’d be the alcohol-propelled V2s then…
OKay, still we shall see how it all unfolds for Germans no ?
I agree, the amount to service the economy and the amount to service the propaganda, are most likely far apart. Right now propaganda is the king, when the gas runs out, the economy will be the king.
And the quality of the moonshine was far superior to the octane of the day, no matter which plane or even vehicle of the day was used.
Its biggest problem was the further away from the source one got, the more difficult it was to use the fuel.
And then amounts of year round fuel became the issue so gassers did win the day over that.
Those Germans are long dead and gone; the present generation is concentrating on getting the 63 genders right, and saying only politically approved things.
Old Brown Fool, I agree !!
It´s frightening though…
I apologize, and in front of everyone, if I have offended you by my writing, Mr. Vilches.
Please nooooo !!
I fully agree with the consequences you mention regarding the Zero Hedge article you posted.
I can´t follow your comment above Oscar because you did not offend me in any way, shape or form ! Not today, not ever. My reply to your post above just wanted to emphasize how bad the situation is.
I gather that what possibly happened is that my “questions request” above (No.2) got casually posted right after your initial comment (No.1)… but they were not related at all. It so happens that mods just posted both inputs the way they came out, but no reference to your No.1 post was intended there by me, none at all !
Warm regards to you Oscar and please keep up your always valuable input.
Tus comentarios son siempre oportunos y muy apreciados Oscar !
Sorry, my mistake Oscar. Typing fast, above I meant to say my “question request” post was No. 3 (THREE) not No. 2. My bad there. So, to be clear, my post No.3 was in no way related to your post No.1.
My post No.2 just tried to fully endorse your valuable post No.1
Excellent article, Mr. Vilches. So, say it’s December 1 in the EU, just two months away. What will be the energy situation then in EU?
casey, we can´t know for sure what exactly will happen with the “energy situation” in Europe…but trust me that absolutely nothing good will happen, not even close. For sure, the “energy situation” will have unavoidable knock-on impact on everything else everywhere and on everyone even far away from Europe.
So, sorry to say that I can´t avoid daring to think that chaos is very much in the cards.
Still, I harbor the hope that the current problems will be solved in a civilized way, no ?
Two comments about this article are how can you blame us, the British that is, for leaving such a Ponzi scheme organization like the EU? Second one is we used to have gas tanks in the sixties that I recall sinking in the ground (or a sleeve) as it emptied.
This idea of banning any Russian gas or oil imports must be to bring about economic collapse and civil conflict, which our overlords require to bring in CBDC and total control of a defeated populace. Including there Ukrainians. Even the EU must know that it’s impossible to replace Russian energy supplies since they’ve been trying to for 25 years or so.
I am an engineer, and at one point worked in the nat gas industry. There are three principal means of gas storage. The dominant one in terms of capacity is underground storage. Gas is pumped into underground cavities—these are not huge caverns, as some imagine them, but typically volumes of porous rock left over after petroleum or saline extraction—under high pressure, often 200 bar (1 bar is atmospheric pressure). When gas is re-extracted from them, all but 1 bar of pressure can be recovered, leaving only 0.5% of gas, under atmospheric pressure, in the ground. The idea of “flushing” these cavities with new gas is stark nonsense; the net result would be that you would be replacing that remaining atmospheric pressure gas with other gas, for no net gain. 99% of the gas in these cavities can be recovered, 0.5% (or more, depending on local geology) is lost to leakage within ground, and 0.5% remains at atmospheric pressure. Then if gas is available, the storage can be refilled.
The other, much smaller volume of storage is in aboveground tanks, at atmospheric pressure. These tanks have mobile roofs with liquid edge seals—lids in effect—that seal the top of the gas storage, and move down as gas is depleted. Their weight supplies some of the pressure to get the gas out, but mostly it is just pumped out with compressors (which can act as vacuum pumps quite well) and the roof follows it down. No “flushing with other gas” is done, either. These tanks have the convenience of being able to be erected anywhere regardless of local geology, and mostly serve as on-site storage for gas powerplants or gas-processing petrochemical facilities.
The third type, recently increasing, is LNG storage. These tanks are the smallest, because they must be slightly pressurized, and so their structure must be much more robust. Often, they are buried underground, but this is for better thermal insulation rather than for pressure support. The LNG tanks hold the gas in liquid form, much more condensed than even the underground 200bar facilities, but the downside is that the gas must be refrigerated to very low temperatures to remain liquid at near-atmospheric pressures. This is not like the bottled *propane* gas that can be stored liquid at room temperatures. And guess what, there is no “flushing out” with other gas going on here as well.
In conclusion, the concept of getting gas out of storage by forcing it out with the same amount of “fresh” natural gas is utter nonsense, as even a moment of considered reflection will make obvious. You could, I suppose, try to flush it out with a neutral gas like nitrogen, but what you would get out of it is a dilute mixture of methane and nitrogen, and it would make no sense economically, as nitrogen is expensive to obtain, in terms of energy—you obtain it in industrial quantities by refrigerating air until it liquefies, then distilling oxygen and nitrogen apart. You cannot flush the gas out with air, because at some point an explosive mix would be reached.
For the case at hand, the only meaningful nat-gas storage modality you mention is undergound which you describe as … ” typically volumes of porous rock left over after petroleum or saline extraction— (into which nat-gas is pumped) under high pressure, often 200 bar “…
(1) “volumes of porous rock” usually correspond to high permeability formations, correct ?
(2) “left over after petroleum or saline extraction” means a highly heterogenous geological structure which is probably already badly fissured all over, no ?
(3) “under high pressure, often 200 bar” means nat-gas permeation almost ensuring fracturing such formation, does it not ?
(4) Once surfaced, how would such stored nat-gas be distributed without any inflow from anywhere else ?
(5) What happens when such stored nat-gas is depleted ?
First time poster here, but experience in the oil field. I was flushed out in the 2015 purge.
Your underground gas storge from a depleted oil/gas reservoir, can hold gas from the range of the fracture pressure to formation pressure. Both of these pressures will depend on rock formation and depth. The actual numbers are not important, but these limits can’t be breached without causing problems.
You ask what would replace the gas if they you go below the formation pressure? Well, if it is a fully permeable formation, you will get water ingress. In a non-permeable formation, there is no longer enough support for the formation and subsidence can occur. As Shell has found out in their Groningen gas field and Phillips Petroleum in the Ekofisk offshore gas field to name a few. On Ekofisk, Platforms began to sink. They had to be raise the platforms with extensions and greater water injection was used to maintain pressure. I believe they have had to limit production in the Groningen gas field due to earthquakes.
As your statement about back flow. You have me totally confused, unless you are using a venture pump and using the high-pressure pipe gas to extract the subsurface gas at a higher flow rate than what nature permits under a normal pressure gradient? A gas will expand to fill any know volume, so the flow rate is the only thing in question.
Toolpush, your input is most welcome… and certainly needed !
And you mention something that has tremendous implications for the case at hand, namely … “… these limits can’t be breached without causing problems…”. Two posts below please find my second response to poster Ralf Pol which raises further details regarding my deep concerns. It´d be great for you to also comment upon such second post of mine below.
Then your very well meant and nicely interpreted “iffy” considerations also concern me lots. You also introduce the real problem of subsidence and possible earthquake activity, both very valid of course.
I also fully agree with you in that the flow rate is the ruling parameter, nothing else. Along those lines I sure wish I had the possibility to show you (and the audience) a basic diagram of my thesis regarding all of the bad things that may happen to stored nat-gas, its failed outflow and distribution etc etc etc, without the traditional constant inflow from the Russian pipeline (…as flow rate is what rules… and it won´t be there if pipeline is shut off…)
For the time being I can only repeat myself (sorry) by saying that I am convinced things will not work out as usual or expected because, as I said in my article from the very beginning… ” God invented nat-gas reserves as a supplement to – not a substitute of – flowing nat-gas feedstocks “…
Toolpush, without the possibility of showing any diagram I want to openly confess something to you : I may have used the term “backflow” erroneously. I may have also made other similar mistakes. Still, I think the thesis holds water and there will be trouble by trying to use the stored nat-gas without the Russian pipeline flow.
The only solution that comes to mind right now would be for you to slowly and carefully re-read my article and with my full authorization please correct and edit the wording which you believe would be more appropiate. You would be performing as my technical editor if you wish… and I am quite happy with that.
In certain paragraphs or conceptuaI descriptions I may have not been clear or even used the wrong terminology. You would correct that with my full permission of course so as to benefit the audience which includes very concerned decision-makers trust me.
I sure wish you accept my proposition Toolpush.
Respectfull bear hug from Jorge
I totally agree with you that storage is a adjunct and not a substitute for pipeline gas.
If Russian gas is kept shut off once they get away from the traditional addition season, then the storage will be drawn down extremely quickly. There does not seem to be a Cavery of LNG to come to the rescue. The only solution is to shut down nearly all of the European industry with all the consequences that that ensures.
An interesting little side note I saw the day. Due to no Nat gas , now N2 fertilizer production = No Co2 by-product= No CO2 for beer making= No Beer production. Now that would be a crisis!
Back to the point, those storage reservoirs will produce quickly while under high pressure, but as the winter goes on, and the reservoir pressure decline, so does the production rate. So, by the end winter, even if the quantity of gas remaining is enough, the rate of production may not meet the demand.
What happens after winter with storage empty and Russian gas still unavailable? Now that is a question nobody wants to think about, because none of the answers are good.
Toolpush my friend,
Let´s please cut the chase with the bloody beer and go straight to scotch on the rocks…
It´s my invite and you get to pick the scotch, so make it a goooood one pleeeeaaase.
For starters, because of the Rosneft re Schwedt PCK & others ´nationalization´ cum confiscation, the Russian Druzbha pipeline may be cut off starting TOMORROW… if it isn´t shutdown already. I have published extensively herein on such topic which you may easily find right here in The Saker website.
Okay Toolpush, in sum — technicalities aside — we fully agree guy
(1) forget about LNG, zero solution, AWOL.
(2) rapid pressure drop means rapid reduction of stored nat-gas volume produced.
(3) European industry will be shutting down gradually but firmly starting very soon ending March 2023
(4) please splash some of your cold scotch flat on my face because I can´t believe me saying any of this.
Yet another highly respecfull koala bearhug for you Toolpush
If you live in Europe, it is going to have to be a very good Scotch to keep you warm this winter.
I never disagreed with the hypothesis of Europe being in deep doo doo, it was just the concept of “back flushing”.
On that subject and as you brought up oil. In the US, for them to extract the oil out of their strategic oil reserves, they do need to pump water under the oil they have stored in their reservoir.
Oil reservoirs require increased reservoir pressure to make them flow.
Gas reservoirs require the surface pressure to be decreased to make them flow.
An example. The Brent field in the North Sea was kept as an oil fields for a long time by pumping huge quantities of water in it to flush out the oil. This pressure kept the gas in solution.
At some point this was not economical, so they depressurized the field and allowed the gas to come out of solution, turning it from an oil field that produced some gas to a gas field that produced some oil. In both phases water was also being produced.
I thought the oil was going to continue to be pumped until November. But that may be the European plan.
Nationalizing Rozneft’s refinery does sort of change things and puts the ball in Russia’s court.
Oil is a lot easier to source than gas, but those tankers from the Middle East had better be on the water now, or Europe will be in for another crunch.
Let your grandchildren live in interesting times, as the old Confuses saying goes.
Thanks, your input seems to confirm what I suspected was the case given how Ukraine was able to get by for 17 months(?) exclusively by their own reserves stored in huge tanks without any back-flow of gas.
It may come as a surprise to most people, but Russian gas is still flowing across Ukraine, plus they have some of their own production. As things are turning nasty in the war, that flow may get turned off, but they may disadvantage some counties friendly to Russia. Politics will decide what will happen there. Not sure if or how Ukraine is paying for that gas.
Per the above considerations, let´s hope then that the required fracture gradient studies for each individual nat-gas storage cavern in Europe done decades ago were 100% thorough and precise… or else. At any rate, operationally speaking highly pressurized 200-bar nat-gas would be surfaced rapidly undergoing very severe sudden de-compression, correct ? Then how about temperature-management issues most specially in mid-winter ?
So we should thus assume that each individual sub-surface storage facility everywhere in Europe whatever its size, location and type today already has the means to deal with the impact of such suddenly de-pressurized nat-gas and further evenly distribute it on surface pipeworks at precise and agreed constant and homogenous pressure and flow-rate amongst the different stakeholders, correct ? Otherwise, how would such nat-gas distribution take place ? Please describe.
I also disagree in that serious cavern pressure limitations do exist. That is why the article mentions, in passing, requiring “…the development of 3D static and dynamic geological models, precise characterization of the storage behavior thru time elapsed, sensitivities analyses, risk assessments, etc…” which I would not believe to have been done for every single individual sub-surface storage facility everywhere in Europe whatever its size, location and type
Besides, highly cohesive, homogenously consolidated subsurface rock is not that easy to find. Much needed soil mechanics data and expertise was probably not taken into consideration regarding each and every sub-surface nat-gas storage cavern in Europe due to the fact that what´s happening today was fully unforeseen by everyone decades ago including the original geologists, designers and engineering contractors and also current operators.
Additionally, as never before have all of these sub-surface caverns been emptied of their stored nat-gas, how is it that the effective capacity to be retrieved is already known as the 0.5% you specifically mention ? Unfathomable ´calculations´ could be dead wrong we both know that.
Please allow me to add the following:
(1) have any of these procedures ever been followed before throughout Europe? What positive experience is there available in facilities this large and so heterogenous and widespread with so much at stake ?
(2) why would these procedures under the new unforeseen conditions not be considered to be experimental ?
(3) would absolutely everybody in charge of European nat-gas storage facilities know about these problems in advance and proceed exactly as required without risking experimentation and/or improvisation ?
I hope we agree that storing and delivering methane in enormously large quantities without having the traditional and foreseen Russian pipeline inflow is a spanking new and very serious business, no ?
“At any rate, operationally speaking highly pressurized 200-bar nat-gas would be surfaced rapidly undergoing very severe sudden de-compression, correct ? Then how about temperature-management issues most specially in mid-winter ?”
A depleted nat gas reservoir used as storage will act the same as a virgin nat gas reservoir, of which the oilfield has been producing from for 150 years. How do you know when you have hit the fracture pressure if it was previously an unknown, or maybe it has changed. Simple. When the reservoir pressure stops responding to new additions of gas. As the fracture point is being approached volume v pressure increase would be very closely monitored.
The oilfield has been producing nat gas from wells sun, hale or shine for many years. Yes, really cold weather can cause problems, but they still manage to produce gas in Siberia throughout the winter. Most old weather production issues revolve around water. Either freezing, or methane hydrates. Methanol injection and heat traced piping are the cures used. I worked on the Shell project off Sakhalin Is. It was cold, but we never stopped production due to the cold. Texas does have some freezing issues due to not being fully set up for freezing conditions.
Toolpush, your posts are music to my ears.
Still, I can only repeat myself, in this case per what is stated right above.
You say…” … Simple, when the reservoir pressure stops responding to new additions of gas. As the fracture point is being approached volume v pressure increase would be very closely monitored.”
Toolpush, do you honestly believe that
…”… (3) absolutely everybody in charge of European nat-gas storage facilities knows about these problems in advance and will proceed exactly as required without risking experimentation and/or improvisation ???
(1) have any of these procedures ever been followed before throughout Europe? What positive experience is there available in facilities this large and so heterogenous and widespread with so much at stake ?
(2) why would these procedures under the new unforeseen conditions not be considered to be experimental ?
I could add lots more of my own repetition, but it´d be more elegant to suggest you just re-read my posts right above.
My reply ended up at the bottom of the page
I use LPG only for cooking, which comes in a cylinder, usually a 14 kg one. Can you explain how that cylinder is exhausted without pumping it with additional gas after some time?
LPG is a liquid in the bottle you have. Under pressure to keep it that way. At atmospheric pressure, it would boil at -42 deg C.
When you open the valve the liquid boils and gas comes out.
Once there is no more liquid is left, the bottle is empty and you get no more gas.
Nat gas is methane, and boils/liquefies at -163 deg C. So, it is held as a gas in any storage underground formation, so it acts differently to your gas bottle.
I hope this helps
Welcome back Jorge, and I am grateful for a new essay from you. I will add this to my Jorge Vilches essay archive on my computer, so id no internet, I can re-enjoy any time.
Marcellus, thanks pal. It´s always nice to know you follow my posts so closely and with such care !
BTW, I am only try to enrich and expand the debate. In this case I´m afraid that there is not enough awareness regarding the “nat-gas storage supply” conundrum. It has never ever been tried out before, so…
Jorge, if your articles were like hits in a baseball games you’d have one hell of a high batting average!
Best to you…
Ahahahhhahh great I love baseball all the way back from the Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Casey Stengel time-frame. Yogi Berra was also around with his famous aphorisms of sorts. I used to closely follow Harmon Killebrew loved the guy he played for then “Washington Senators” with Camilo Pascual as pitcher. Thanks Travel About !
Your explanation is very complete; so much so that a sixth grader could easily comprehend what will be happening in the near future. It’s unfortunate that European “leaders” struggle with what they will be soon dealing with!
Nebula Nomad, thank you for your kind and considerate response. I always try as hard as possible. I also do make mistakes (!!!) as all humans do. Many, some, a few…important, not-important, not-THAT-important… who knows, it depends, but it´s basically the same.
That´s why I post right here (my second home ) so as to discuss such with you guys, my honest commentariati friends eager to contribute to the debate, same as myself. That´s all I care for, making a difference with you gals and guys. Thanks again Nebula !
Another marvelous article, Jorge, always a pleasure.
In not unrelated news, it seems the idiot Germans have–nationalized? abstracted? stolen?–Russia’s controlling stake in the Schwedt refinery, as a means to combat its self-imposed boycott of Russian oil, due mid-winter. Even the ruling-class parrot BBC admits it’s “not clear” where alternative supplies of oil will come from, as Jorge’s previous series of articles have made abundantly clear. “Alternative supplies” vs. a steady, reliable flow of perfectly blended raw product from Russia, through a 100% reliable pipeline. Just when you though it was impossible for the Germans to get any stupider . . .
pasha, thanks for your kind encouragement and the info regarding the Schwedt refinery. I guess my specific article on the Schwedt refinery may soon be republished right here or cross-published elsewhere as it was originally. As such article clearly indicated, Schwedt will be the make-it-or-break-it leading case. No Schwedt — or a failing Schwedt at 50% capacity — means no Berlin, no Germany, game over. I hate to divert attention but Schwedt is a case in point now in front-page international news. Thank you pasha.
“highly pressurized subsurface caverns by themselves will not work as expected “.
Pray tell, Dr. of Physics…how do I get the gas out of my LNG gas container to power my truck? Funny enough, I open the valve after disconnecting the supply hose from the injector, and…thar she blows. A miracle? And after reconnection, my truck actually starts to fire up, another miracle? And to top it off, the tank (about 2000psi) is depleted almost totally with very little left, and the flow was constant during that time, because the flow was regulated down for the injector to supply it to the motor.
You see, I worked in nat gas conversions of vehicles…..
“for example, to suction nat-gas out of its current storage as a vacuum would be drawn making outflow impossible.” of course it would work, installing a check valve that prevents the gas under atmospheric or slightly pressure to leak out but lets air in to prevent a vacuum. Then get your pumps running to feed the transmission lines. This is at least theoretically possible. (And again, I was an installer for nat gas and propane appliances up to 700 000 BTUH per unit, Canadian gasfitters ticket class B)
Of course, the problems in large storage containers are of a different scale, but the principles should still be the same. I hope you can further enlighten me on where I went wrong. Also I have not worked at at LNG gas unloading dock, so I have no clue how they empty the containers.
Peter M, my reply got un-intentionally posted (my bad ?) just below.
Please do keep up your valuable comments and debate.
BTW, please allow me to add that the …”… highly pressurized subsurface caverns…”…in question store nat-gas and not the LNG you may have to power-up your truck.
The underground gas storage to which Mr Vilches refers cannot be pressurized beyond a certain amount. The maximum pressures are a function of the nature of rock in the caverns and the rock mechanics that this implies. To cut a long story short, the example you use is a storage tank which is small and made of a specific homogenous metal. underground caverns are mostly salt caverns which are brittle rocks, not homogeneous and cannot be pressurized beyond a certain level, lest there is a risk of fracturing and escape of the gas back to surface leading to a huge explosion. Therefore, this has to be controlled through the backflow and the continuous pressurization of the caverns.
Therefore, with no backflow, the caverns will achieve almost atmospheric pressure very fast and may require some form of suction to remove any further gas. it is not as straightforward as pressuring a gas tank to and controlling the outflow using a valve. Hope this helps.
Tirius, your detailed, highly specific and obviously knowledgeable reply is exactly what my article intends to prompt. I am no guru, no PhD, just with some field experience maybe, but nothing really impressive on paper if you care to know. But I do have several decades of technical exposure, so I just try to promote a deeper analysis of key topics taken for granted (such as this one) on “sound technical basis” for lack of a better expression.
So Tirius you are the best possible example of positive contribution to this debate. I urge you to also comment upon other posts and my corresponding replies therein if all possible. Tirius, your valuable input is much needed, trust me. Millions of livelihoods are at stake. Please do keep up your technical input right here right now. And thanks lots !
PS: Regarding your “cavern pressure limitations” comments and concerns the article in passing summarily mentions… ” development of 3D static and dynamic geological models, precise characterization of the storage behavior thru time elapsed, sensitivities analyses, risk assessments,etc…” And if I may say so, I´m sure we would also both agree in that the people responsible of such projects better take the trouble to find out the exact FRACTURE GRADIENT corresponding to such SPECIFIC “storage caverns” in sub-surface. Highly cohesive, homogenously consolidated subsurface rock is not that easy to find everywhere, is it ? Soil mechanics data and expertise is much needed beforehand, not after.
Thank you Jorge. Millions or even billions of lives are at stake. Looked at it from that angle, like with many complex issues that are being reduced to soundbites, this topic of the oil and gas industry best practices is just one such example where politicians are made to pass for geniuses, spouting nonsense.
The rock properties need to be respected and modelled properly in order to use these underground storage sites. Obviously, not all the stored gas can be retrieved. Secondly, the true estimate of the capacity of these storage sites are just that: estimates….not actual measurements such as the volume of a gas bottle, as never before have these sites been emptied of their gas to know the effective capacity that can be retrieved.
Many would like to express themselves, but as I said earlier, the de is ion to destroy the oil and gas industry came around 2012 and where I used to work, for the first time, a non engineer became CEO and destroyed the company. We could not understand the new management speak and all around, many die-hard oil men and women were pushed out or left. Then 2014 came and many lost their jobs. Fleets were scrapped and much more. Technology became more about bells and whistles rather than what worked. It was called the digital oilfield. Today, in hindsight, I understand better what happened using the data available today and the catastrophe we are all being plunged into. And like with much else, we have little say about the outcome lest we be called a something apologist or be cancelled completely. There is a very unhealthy level of discussion out there and many are just trying to scrape by. So they sit quiet and try to rationalise everything going on.
Excellent food for thought TiRius. Your sincere and highly knowledgeable first-hand input is both historical and priceless. Please do keep it coming. Respectfull bear hug from Jorge
Absolutely delightful to have you back on Saker writing such a mordant piece. European high school science students and their teachers should study your arguments so that they can educate the EU wise men and women (politicians).
Gianni, piacere di trovarti una altra volta cosí tutti insieme !
Thank you so much for your warm encouragement Gianni. I am also sure that “some” nat-gas storage units “somewhere” will deliver “some” nat-gas to “some” people out there… But as my article says nothing anywhere close to what many are counting on. At best, nat-gas volumes delivered will be small and slow. Furthermore, it´d be a “one-off” event and then, what follows exactly ? Nothing ?
Gianni, all I´m trying to do is contribute to the debate making it clear what´s at stake. If I were only 50% correct it´d be the same European nightmare, trust me. A half-dark environment would be more than enough… The problem is that high school students do understand the problems involved perfectly well. It´s grown-up in charge that don´t !
Sir Isaac Newton was Master of the Mint – the British Treasury, a finance guy.
And his biographer Lord Maynard Keynes wrote that Newton was not a scientist, rather the last Magi, i.e. magician.
That was after Keynes spend a fortune to collect all Newton’s documents, discovered reams of Gnostic kabbala papers.
Problem is the EC is actually following Newton’s magic.
A RAND Corp document leaked, which they loudly protest “Fake”, like Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers,
details a diabolical attack on Germany’s economy because it is a competitor! This is zero-sum globalist economics in action. The Pentagon fully intends to send the EU into a 5 year deep recession.
Links in previous thread here.
Peter M, you did not go wrong anywhere with your arguments.
Still, you do admit that
…”… This is at least theoretically possible…”…
…” …the problems in large storage containers are of a different scale…”…
…”… but lets air in to prevent a vacuum…” In the case in point such highly pressurized “air” would necessarily intermix with nat-gas and dilute its concentration.
Please allow me to add the following:
(1) have any of these procedures ever been followed before ? What positive experience is there available in facilities this large and so heterogenous and widespread ?
(2) why would these procedures not be considered to be experimental ?
(3) would absolutely everybody in charge of European nat-gas storage facilities know about these problems in advance and proceed exactly as required without risking experimentation ?
Thanks for your reply, and of course, I can only speak of theoretically possible scenarios. But I wanted to point out that there are no physical constraints to prevent any of the possible evacuation methods.
As to the dilution of low-pressure Nat Gas by air, this is of course was solved a long time ago very simply in the coke gas containers to fed gas to the UK households. There to my vague knowledge the lid of the tanks were movable, and by its weight caused the in this way pressurized gas to flow out, with no vacuum being created. Refilling the tank raised the lid again.
This same method was used afaik in Frankfurt, Germany, where methane gas was produced in so-called “Faultuerme”.
Wastewater of the city in those huge containers was processed through bacterial action, the gas evacuated into similar as described above storage tanks, and the water then released as partially cleaned into the Main River. The remaining biomass (sludge) was also utilized, at the time in the mid to late 1900s as fertilizer. Today it is incinerated
The gas was then used in a central steam producing station that fed many buildings of the cities inner core with steam heat.
Frankfurt is at present in the process to upgrade the whole system.
Peter M, thanks for contributing to the much-needed debate.
Peter, I urge you to please scroll above and find the response that Tirius presented to your original post.
Regarding your current reply, I understand your valid descriptions but, quite frankly, it´s waaaay too late for any of that. I can only repeat myself reminding what already was stated just above and in my article proper.
The “Theoretically possible scenarios” you mention are experimental at best Peter and winter 2023 is knocking the door right now (!). And sorry to cordially disagree with you Peter but enormous “physical constraint” limitations do exist. I hope we agree that storing and delivering methane in enormously large quantities — such as the case in point — is very serious business, no ?
The example you present re ” coke gas containers to feed gas to the UK households ” is orders of magnitude smaller and does not apply in this case then. Neither does the original example you presented regarding your truck engine fuel tank. The Frankfurt “huge containers” you mention above are tiny tiny small in comparison to a sub-surface cavern such as the case in point. Still, you say that “Frankfurt is now upgrading the whole system” so something went wrong and for the topic at hand there is simply no time left for any of that.
Tirius is obviously knowledgeable and his response to your posts (above and below) reveals his deep experience probably in oil & gas (both upstream and downstream) most probably as service company country manager (or approx. equivalent) is my guess. Please do refer to his very precise responses.
Peter, still your input is essential to analyze all possible courses of action. Time is of the essence. Millions of livelihoods are at stake. Thanks again Peter !
The gas supply example is once more a hermetic system with homogenous metal pipes and the like. Underground caverns are different beasts altogether.
The Frankfurt example is a biogas production plant using sewage or any other biomass based feedstock. The quantities produced are not enough or even come close to the levels of gas produced from oil Wells and oil and gas reservoirs. These are two completely different things.
Furthermore, actually air could not be used to displace nat-gas (mostly methane) as oxygen content would make it a highly explosive mix.
That of course is correct. Between 5% LEL and 17% UEL for methane.
Here is what I was looking for regarding tank storage and evacuation without backflow:
“The volume of the container follows the quantity of stored gas, with pressure coming from the weight of a movable cap. Typical volumes for large gas holders are about 50,000 cubic metres (1,800,000 cu ft), with 60-metre (200 ft) diameter structures.”
Again, usefulness depends on scale….
Surely NS2 is not a difficult technical problem but a simple intelligence test:
How many EUssies does it take to open a gas tap?
When it’s open, nothing comes out until they pay for it, and not in unspendable Euros or USD. Russia say ” No pay, no gas”; it’s a difficult intelligence problem.
Welcome back Jorge. Your articles are always thought provoking and this articles is right up there.
In regard to back-flow pressure. As I understand your article, inert gas isn’t possible as a back flow medium because it would dilute the natural gas. Air is out because the the risk of reaching the lower explosive limit. Only things which are immiscible with gas so it displaces, but not dilute and is relatively non-reactive. That leaves water. I think they could flood the caverns to displace the gas. I don’t know what the environmental / geological consequences of flooding the underground caverns to the tune of tens of billions of cubic meters would do, but probably nothing good. I’d think abandoned salt mines are out of consideration.
North East, many many many thanks for your sincere warmth and excellent analysis. Inert gas would dilute and air oxygen would explode. Water flooding is messy, expensive, and not always effective. Also, water “wherewithal” not always there, is it ? Neither are large-enough pumps. Still, any and all of these would be a “one-off” one time only. What cometh next ? Would all the nat-gas storages be ruined forever after ?
Very likely – even if it were possible to restore them, wouldn’t make economic sense. The only exception I can think of is pressurized storage in a system made out of solid rock – no limestone or salt – and (( only)) if the storage system had water displacement in mind when it as built. It might work like this (simplified model): pressurized gas is stored. At pressure, there’s no need for back flow pressure until it reaches atmospheric pressure. Once depleted, the stores are refilled with by feeding pressurized gas to displace the water out through a pipe inlet leading to the surface at the lowest point in the cavern. It’s the similar to the principle used for submarines, with the same problems. Safe bet that there’s no such facility already in service that happens to sit on the right geology (per Tirius). Even if there is, it’d be only one. Not enough.
If there is a storage system built like the model, there’s still major environmental issue. Natural gas is mostly immiscible in water – not totally. Under pressure, water can dissolve enough gas to be extremely hazardous – sometimes observed as flammable water/gas from the kitchen faucet (well water near fracking) . It does happen to unlucky landowners. So the water pushed out would have to be de-gassed ie treated as potentially flammable / toxic. Doesn’t count the other contaminates that might find their way into the water.
I think I follow your line of thought North East and believe that something such as tough basalt would be needed. It´s very rare in Europe though. I can only recall Paraguayan basalt described by geologists for Yacyertá Dam soil mechanics studies, way back in the 1980s… Still, your observations are quite valid, so thanks North East !
if they flood the caverns with water, they would not be able to use the caverns again…it would be a short term fix for a long term problem.
Very helpful, thank you, hilarious situation the EU has put itself in. May Europeans (and Americans, Canadians, and Australians) awaken and overthrow The Cabal, and quickly.
John, the only “good” part — for lack of a better term — is that very soon in a few months we shall all know how this dreadfull story ends. Thanks for your warm words John. Cordially Jorge
The Netherlands and Norway are also gas producers. Wouldn’t this gas flow from their side be enough to deplete the gas reservoirs?
We can´t know the answer without further (key) details.
Dutch and Norway nat-gas would still not have the same exact composition that Russian nat-gas has. It´s mostly methane of course, but the devil is in the details and my article mentions this aspect in passing.
Furthermore oil & gas contracts are normally decades long and most surely such production is already committed to third parties. Still, even if such nat-gas were fully available today (not) it would never be as abundant as Russian nat-gas, they´d still need to have the kilometers-long connections already layed out and hooked up, with systems already tested etc etc etc as explained in the article. Sorry to say it´s waaaay too late for any of that.
Thanks for your question Eternally
Norway and Holland already have other committed clients for their gas. If their gas is diverted to provide backlog, what happens to their other clients?
This is a tight market and a major player is being taken out meaning the supply side has got a huge gap to fill. Simply diverting from one side to the other will not work. Peter will not be robbed to pay Paul. Especially not in the current EU.
TiRius I true that.
It´s a 101% seller´s market. Supply makes the rules. Demand takes the (changing) rules that supply comes up with. Is it fair ? The market does not care about fairness, it just is what it is. Regards from Jorge
I always read your articles which for me ignorant of the subject are a source of knowledge.
Thank you !
If you say you seek to know more you are not at all ignorant. You are a student, a humble and most prominent student at that !
another great article by jorge. thanks for your tireless explanations. its been amusing to hear over the months how the whole of europe will switch to norways little gas pipe and somehow breathe through a straw of miniscule capacity. pure insanity on its own. i take the pun “gaslighting” literally on this article .
suddenly our clean cheap and safe gas is bad so you wont miss having any, who wants gas as it might harm your kids. lolz, MSM serving up another large helping of bs to the poverty olivers holding out their bowls. yes sir
Thanks for your valuable post pablozz. So keep up you input !
Respectfull koala bear hug for you Pablo abrazo de oso para Ud. !!
Peter M, wooooowwww !!!
It´s not as simple as it may seem to be, is it ?
All I can say after browsing through your extraordinary PDF file link (above) is that there might not be any safe nat-gas storage facility anywhere in the world, including Europe !!!
God helps us all…
Something I’m not quite clear about. If there is storage and you need inflow to create outflow, what is the point of storage? Surely the system must allow and enable extraction without inflow. I’m not criticising the article, I’m obviously missing something.
Nick J. if you are not clear about something I tried to explain, it´s because I was not effective enough in my attempt to communicate with you. Then it´s sorta my “bad” so please allow me try again okay ?
Fortunately, your have been very clear expressing your doubts with unequivocal precision. That helps lots.
Of course, I suggest you also slowly please re-read the above article starting with one initial KEY paragraph entitled ” high school physics ” …
Please bear with me Nick
(1) Storage = there is “storage”, true enough. But as the article tries to explain (a) “storage” is not just ´any´ old storage anybody can come up with and (b) “storage” also involves adequate future extraction and delivery methodology. And precisely THAT is what has been seriously altered the instant that regular normal everyday Russian pipeline inflow stops dead.
(2) infow / outflow relationship = Yes, as current European storage facilities have been designed and constructed for many good reasons (safety, cost, enormous size, delivery speed, etc. etc etc ) you DO need at least “some” inflow to produce much larger outflow. It may even be “inflow LITE”, you follow ? Or ´low flow rate inflow´ & ´low pressure inflow´… but some bloody ever-loving yankee-doodle source nat-gas “INFLOW” needs to exist to push out much LARGER pressurized outflow otherwise no outflow none, at least under established design and operational requirements, sorry.
The above means that YES “storage” has a point — or a reason — to exist because otherwise where would nat-gas accumulate when needed in high-demand season ? Which means that such “inflow-dependent storage outflow” does have “a raison d´etre” (excuse my French) . Methinkxs that the purpose of “storage” is clearly described in the article above. What probably required a better explanation is how the “storage extraction method” works. And per design, storage outflow ONLY works well and as expected with at least “some” inflow which, BTW, was always an overabundant given.
Question: just who in his or her right mind would firmly provoke Russia into cutting off its nat-gas cash cow to Europe ??? Nick, have you had the opportunity to read any of my other 20-some ´The Saker´ articles regarding this aspect ?
(3) No, the system was NOT designed to “allow for and enable extraction without inflow”. No. Now then, we can now try to defeat the purpose and design of the system by forcefully extracting nat-gas from the storage we now have (not any other). Europe has stored nat-gas the way it has for many excellent technical reasons. But now, having decided to cut off Russian pipeline feedstocks, Europe better find a way (all very bad ways mind you) to forcefully extract such nat-gas from the storage system that Europe adopted but now WITHOUT the foreseen design and operational parameters, i.e. Russian pipeline inflow…
(4) The ADDITIONAL problem seems to be that there is 0 (zero) awareness about the above and — apparently — also 0 (zero) planning, preparation, etc. etc. So come winter 2023, the Russian nat-gas may possibly be stored in large quantities but with NO clear extraction method at hand. It´d be like having a refrigerator full of excellent food but chained all around and pad-locked with the key missing somewhere. Another example could be having a car with its gear-shift box broken down and only running in reverse. You have the car allright but you must drive backwards okay ?
Nick J, 2:59 PM EST wrote :”Nick J on September 16, 2022 · at 2:59 pm EST/EDT
Something I’m not quite clear about. If there is storage and you need inflow to create outflow, what is the point of storage? Surely the system must allow and enable extraction without inflow. I’m not criticising the article, I’m obviously missing something.”
“Storage” is perhaps not the best word to describe the phenomenon we are dealing with.. Gas consumption like water and electricity, varies over time, daily, weekly, over the year. Gas flows through pipes at virtually constant rate. There i no staff at the pumps manipulating valves to control gas flow. When consumption is lower than what comes through pipes, extra gas has to go somewhere. It could go out in the atmosphere, but it could be dangerous. So extra space is needed to “store” the extra volume of gas. When consumption is larger than what comes from pipelines, that extra gas is then used. Those gas storages are big, but literally work just like that – pipeline leads to “storage” and exits on the other end, downstream, or “down-gas” if you prefer. Consumption is “down-gas”, it goes goes up and down. And the storage perform balancing act. When consumption goes up, gas flows from storage. When consumption goes down, the storage fills up – the pressure raises.
Similar situation is with water. In cities, water tanks provide balance. For small places, up to 100,000 people, volume of water tanks is about 0.3-0.5 of daily consumption. The larger the city, the smaller water tanks. I would guess new York city has perhaps 1-2% daily consumption stored in water tanks. For producing electric energy, irrigation, the tanks are a bit larger – check the size of lake Mead in USA, Arizona. It stores enough water to provide additional water for consumers downstream for about 5-6 months of no rain. Could be a whole year or two. But no more than that. Gas requires more storage volume than city water and less than lake Mead. In any case, stored volume is not meant to cover months and months without constant refilling.
And yes, natural gas is heavier than air, so it tends to move down If nothing is pushing it (heavy lid, piston, pressure from pipeline) it will stay – down.
Solutions we have on a small scale, for barbeques and cars, it is possible to provide adequate presurized storage – metal containers, pre-pressurized, or with heavy lids or pistons. neither of these solutions would not work for volumes required for a single city, let alone 32 countries in EU.
Technically impossible. In theory maybe, but in reality – not. :-(
zidar, one word defines your post: “EXCELLENT”
And I for one, fully agree in changing the term “storage” which confuses the analysis beyond reasonable comprehension as Nick J. has humbly just asked about as if he were actually “missing something” (not)
So zidar, you have made not one but 2 (two) EXCELLENT yet very different points I´ll try to expand upon. You are the author of point (1) so full credit to zidar. Actually, the same goes for point (2) although you may not be aware of what it´s all about (very important stuff !!!)
(1) Yes zidar, as you righfully say “nat-gas storage” is not the right term. I dare to suggest a couple of substitutes, but I would never decide upon semantics and terminology because I am simply not qualified for that, no credentials. More on that later…
Instead of “storage” I humbly suggest the possibility of using the term “compensating cushion volume”… or… “balancing volumetric lung” … or combinations thereof maybe (?) I dunno, you guys know far better than myself after I have repeatedly — wrongfully — used the term “storage” throughout my article. The problem is though that the rest of the world (everybody else out there) also uses the term “storage”…
(2) “The Saker” Comments Section group analysis (my favorite topic no ?)
Okay, let me put it this way just to see how it flies and how you gals and guys react.
If any — repeat, if ANY… possibly none — my sorta “merit” is just to kick-start the debate on whatever I happen to focus upon. From there on the discussion / debate gets a life of its own, just like right here right now. Thus, the Comments Section debate / discussion improves the original article way beyond any possible aspiration the author could have. For me, these are excellent ´sparring sessions´ just like boxing champions have, mind you (ehem cof cof)
In a nutshell, thank you zidar, thank you Nick J., thank you all for your most valuable input and analysis.
Just keep challenging whatever does not sound right, it helps LOTS !
Jorge, Zidar, I’m far clearer now. In telecommunications we do something similar called “buffering” (holding bits until we can insert them into the flow at a basic level). Same principle, nothing in nothing out.
Hi Nick, Gas holders used to be everywhere in Europe. The lid rises as you pump in gas. The weight of the lid maintains the pressure as gas is removed.
Thanks Tony, I remember those, should have realised. I’m in NZ, there used to be lots here, now very rare as we have gone away from gas mains.
It seems that Europe and especially Germany were also primary targets of the US.
This has been Michael Hudson’s contention since shortly after the SMO started.
Thank you Jorge Vilches – like everyone I glided past the smug assertions about the reserves
I had no idea of the problems you describe: it is hard to imagine the stupidity on display: and it reminds everyone of how ignorant they are of the basic insfrastructures of a modern economy
Thank you again – this article is on the same high level as those you wrote about the related issues concerning oil refineries
In both cases it is impossible to imagine that the authorities were not aware of the problems you describe, it’s just that they were certain few would question them, now wonder they are so smug
The Emir of Qatar, in a recent interview, has squashed any EU hopes by stating that Qatar ‘“cannot be a substitute for Russian gas.”’
Gerrard, thank YOU for the warm acknowledgement.
It´s a tricky topic I might add, nothing is standardized nor homogenous, with lots of variations everywhere.
So analysis is necessarily foggy and “iffy”, everyone is somewhat “right” yet everyone is also somewhat “wrong”. Poor planning all along as unexpected consequences now blossom all around. This situation should have never happened. No one could see it coming. Europe is unnecessarily at war with itself. So be it. God bless us all.
A fascinating discussion, where I learn as much just reading the comments section as I do reading tje article itself. The saker community is truly one-of-a-kind. Reading the comments it seems we don’t have a clear idea as to how the EU stores its gas, is it in caverns (if so which ones?), or in storage fascilities. Sorry, if my comment is lazy, but isn’t exactly for rhis reason Germany has nationalized the different assets of Gazprom Germania, to gain control over these storage fascilities? Wouldn’t it make a big difference in so far as to their capability to ‘extract’ the gas, if it is kept in such storage fascilities compared to caverns? I ask, because I seem to remember that Ukraine, when Russia shut down the pipeline network in Ukraine, it was still able to get by more than year exclusively on the gas stored in their hugh gas storage fascilities. Am I wrong in this? If this is the case, doesn’t this prove that no such back-flow of gas is essential?
Hungary has its contractual supply…maybe Moldova if it pays its debt of 700m and does get a new contract.
EU made a hint couple months ago that everyone should get a ‘fair share of gas”..yet last few days threatens Hungary as not democratic enough etc for its own tules. One wonders just RU is even more nationalising gas distribution whether EU gas reserves could be – errrr -“hijacked” for central EU control. Who knows.
And one of the 3 companies has the Schwedt refinery?
The embattled gas importer Uniper has entered talks with the German government over a possible nationalisation, the company has said.
The terms under discussion would increase the state’s holding in the faltering energy giant to 50%.
The German state took a 30% stake in the group in a rescue package in July, amounting to about €15bn. Credit lines were further extended by about €4bn last month but the situation has worsened since Russia severed gas supplies to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, forcing Uniper to find alternatives.
The Düsseldorf-headquartered company said on Wednesday discussions over its future, together with its major shareholder the Finnish utility Fortum, were aimed at “finding a long-term solution”.
Uniper has been driven to the brink of bankruptcy, forced by the lack of pipeline gas to compete on the spot market to buy ever more expensive supplies of LNG gas, which arrives by ship, to fulfil its contracts.
Germany’s economy minister, Robert Habeck, has been candid in recent weeks about the need to save the company, saying its failure risks a significant collapse of the German energy sector.
He has warned the energy shock could be as catastrophic as the Lehman Brothers crash that triggered mass economic decline and panic on the financial markets in 2008.
GERMANY is reportedly in advanced talks to nationalise three large gas importers in a bid to prevent the collapse of its energy market.
Bloomberg reports that state ownership of firms Uniper, VNG AG and Securing Energy for Europe GmbH (SEFE) is the main solution on the table as the country tries to get to grips with its energy supplies ahead of winter.
also more details
As Jorge points out, infers, you have to pinch yourself to comprehend the voluntary euthanasia bestowed upon us by our great western leaders. Here’s a shovel, now dig your own grave.
Uniper (other European stakeholders, NS2/other projects), were sitting mighty pretty a few short years ago, ready to enjoy several decades of prosperity, expansion, good paying WORK/JOBS.
Then jealous bitter rivals EXXON-BLACK-STONE/ROCK, The American Mafia, delivered a nuclear strike on the EU.
It’s a generational catastrophe, with the best and brightest (well I suppose there’s not an army of engineers & scientists who cut mustard these days anyway) heading EAST.
Never forget that what seems like total stupidity blundered by politicians may in fact be a clever plan formulated by minds immeasurably superior to ours.
Yes, I’m thinking about Brown’s Bottom again. Someone must have done very nicely out of it.
Brown’s boss, war-criminal Tony Blair, went on to become a multimillionaire, and Brown became Prime Minister!
correction , “one wonders whether EU” should be start of a sentence not whether RU
It’s good to see you back and with another excellent posting. I have also read where Germany has enough gas in storage to get through the better part of winter. Thanks for demolishing that statement – had no idea an inflow was needed to make it a viable solution. The lingering question for me is why does Germany (and the rest of Europe) want to suicide itself. Nordstream 2 is available, but because of stupid egos, they won’t turn it on. Pride goeth before a fall comes to mind. Thank you for explaining this to us non-technical people. Glad you’re back.
No choice,Catherine. Germany is an occupied country with many US garrisons ,oops,bases within its borders. You have surely heard of Ramstein for instance.
Not only that ,its leaders have been blackmailed, threatened,bought _out and likely ideologically fanatical to boot(at least the Greens).
I know most Germans are aware of what is going on but they are powerless. In the end only a revolution will stop it, or Russia giving up within a month or two. Sadly,it looks like Europe will be sent back to the early 1800s and city people will be starving.
Thanks for your warm acknowledgement Catherine gal. You and the folks around you by all means are my moral backstop and source of inspiration. My analysis might possibly be somewhat worth the while to kick-start the debate. But you guys are out there in the real-life front-line trenches bearing the brunt of this infamous burden. I´ll keep on trying my hard best to raise awareness. God bless you and your folks around you Catherine. You are always in my prayers, so please take it as a sincere compliment of mine.
The same is with electricity. Eu governments are just stupid.
In Slovenia we have thermal power plant Velenje which produce 30% of electricity in our state. Nearby is a Velenje coal mine and all coal goes to this powerplant. They are burning also some wood and waste but in small quantities. The coal mine should close by 2032 or even 2030. But this year should increase production. Its manager said last week: “The owner demands us to gradually close the mine. We are not seeking for new workers and not investing in larger output. We obey orders of our owner. We can produce this quantity after two years of investment and development.” This is our Europe now. We still want to close the mine and we also want to mine more coal. But in near future (don’t know when) we won’t need any coal. We also don’t know where will we get the electricity. 30% is a lot. We are in building process of one hydroelectric plant which will bring 2%, but documentation is not yet ready. Fish fan society is constantly demanding something from court. 50 members unknown to public have enough money for years on court.
The articles of Jorge Vilches are golden! Where can I find more of his writings? When I search his name a Spanish politician pops up, but he doesn’t, judging by the photo, seem to be the same person. Is Jorge Vilches the author’s real name?
Jorge has several articles here on the Saker site. Mod.
Okay, my ego in charge now !
Hawk, way up top on the right hand side please find ” Support The Saker ”
Below that please find “Search Articles”
Right there please type in my full name and then click on SUBMIT
Thank you for your support Hauk !
Hi Jorge, here an excellent debunking (in French) of the stupidity of the EU energy sanctions, a real gem:
Great to see you again!
Even though you are once again the bringer of bad news.
The situation does sound truly hopeless.
And it didn’t have to be this way.
I just watched this marvelous interview with the nuclear physicist William Happer, of Princeton, a delightful man.
He explains the scientific realities that more or less neutralize the “dangerous CO2” and global warming narratives:
Hi Taffy, and many thanks for your kind welcome back !
You are mostly right, but some details are not.
The problem is not with the pressures on the underground reservoirs, those reserve numbers usually already discount the amount of unrecoverable gas in storage that remains after the pressure drops to a certain point.
The real problem happens because of those simple facts:
1. NATURAL GAS PRODUCTION IS NOT SEASONAL
2. CONSUMPTION IS SEASONAL
Those reserves are not strategical reserves, they are meant to act as a buffer during winter when consumption increases, thus supplementing the inflows that are basically the same throughout the year. Long-term contracts for gas usually have a constant rate of delivery. Some million cubic meters every month. month after month.
During the summer, the volumes of gas delivered by Russia to Europe are higher than what is used, and the excess is diverted to storage, during winter, gas continues to be delivered at the same rate, but consumption rises dramatically, and thus, reserves are used to supplement the volumes delivered by the pipelines from Russia.
Every year, for the last 10 years at least, the history was always the same, by the end of summer, reserves are around 80 to 85% full, and by the end of the winter, depending on the severity of said winter, they are around 20 to 30% full.
So, what happens when normal inflows are interrupted? Well, the storage will be depleted way earlier, because it was not ever supposed to fulfill the winter load by itself.
So, those reserves are really not enough. They only managed to be able to reach the historical levels of storage by now because demand has been severely destroyed by the combination of legal restrictions and absurdly high prices.
So, maybe, just maybe, if the industry keeps closing its doors and stopping production, and if the winter is not too cold, there will gas enough for heating homes, hospitals, and public buildings until March.
What western PR is doing is trying to distract people, because people think that gas storage is like storing bales of hay for cattle consumption during the winter. But it is not like that. Those storages are meant to cover excess usage in the winter, along with constant, uninterrupted flows of gas from Russia.
Dear Marcos (querido “Marquinhos”) do Brasil, thank you for your valuable analysis and contribution !
And thank you also for helping us out even more okay ? We all need you Marquinhos !
Marcos, as you say, I don´t mind being “mostly right but possibly wrong in some details”. If that were all that´s just dandy fine with me… and maybe, just maybe… I would not be that much “wrong” either. More on that later okay ? Now then, down to business…
(1) Question: can the current nat-gas storage facilities in Europe at large produce nat-gas WITHOUT Russian pipeline nat-gas inflow ? Yes ? No ? Maybe ? How so ? In other words, is the European nat-gas storage system at large basically designed to allow for and enable nat-gas extraction without inflow from the Russian pipeline? Yes ? No ? Maybe ? How so ? What would be needed ? Would it be easy or difficult ?
(2) Question: Is it valid to say that Europe at large better find a way real quick (all very bad ´ways´ mind you) to forcefully extract such nat-gas from the current storage systems that for better or worse Europe has already adopted and filled in with nat-gas but now finding itself WITHOUT the foreseen design and operational parameters, i.e. Russian pipeline inflow ?
(3) Marquinhos, I have issues when you say that …”… those [official] reserve numbers USUALLY already discount the amount of unrecoverable gas in storage that remains after the pressure drops to a certain point…”… What you say Marcos ? What does “USUALLY” mean when pronounced by an EU non-elected official huh ?? We are dealing with bloody lying ever-loving Europeans here Marcos ! I do not buy any official EU statistic of any sort let alone on the basis of …”USUALLY”. So, no, left-behind-in-storage nat-gas un-recoverable volumes can and should be significant Marcos…
(4) So, as you rightfully say.. ” when normal inflows are interrupted storage will be depleted way earlier, because it was not ever supposed to fulfill the winter load by itself.”. True that.
(5) Then you go on to add…” So, maybe, just maybe, if the industry keeps CLOSING its doors and stopping production and if not too cold etc etc etc…there will be nat-gas available until March. ”
Dear Marcos, are you aware of the implications behind such assumption with businesses shutting down like flies in hell ? And what happens in April huh ??? LNG would cover all the bases ? LNG from where exactly ? Where is the enormous LNG freight fleet required for such delivery ? No delays, no accidents anywhere ? Who would pay such prices ? Inflation impact ?
I know these are very difficult questions but please respond as best you can your input is most valuable Marcos. Cordially Jorge
Caverns and old reservoirs can be used to store gas. This explanation is needlessly mysterious. Love your articles otherwise.
Energy stored in high pressure gas can be lost due to friction AND to temperature change (after you compress gas it warms up, and that heat is not useful so it dissipates while it is stored – the opposite of the Joule Thompson effect). If it is a cavern you also have leaks which dissipate your stored gas and that also doesn’t come back.
There is no magic to supply pressure maintaining pressure on a reservoir and in physics, unlike politics, you can’t suck and blow at the same time. If it is a T or in-line configuration you’re either adding or removing gas from the well, and removing means you are relying on the pressure you invested putting it there minus losses from friction, leaks and lost compression heat.
So if you store some gas in a bottle or a salt cavern, you can get a portion of it back to use later minus losses. The other problem is that as the pressure drops in storage, your recovery flow drops and you could get to a point where that flow is too low to be useful. To address this you would make the outlets large and numerous so you could take the trickling flow and spend some of the fuel to compress. This could get inconvenient and would put you in a diminishing return to get the low pressure gas (remember the density goes down as the pressure drops so that game gets inefficient fast).
Dear Jorge, I was watching TV a while ago and they reported that Germany is taking control of Rosneft and that the Schwedt refinery has been nationalized. I remembered your explanation regarding the technical problems that there will be with the fractionation of another type of oil and the people interviewed confirm your statements on this subject. How sad and cruel that you are right because many people will lose their jobs or go bankrupt because of high energy costs.
Víctor, I´ve been trying as hard and best as I possibly can to avoid (or at least mitigate) the impact of this self-inflicted European energy crisis, so far to no avail. The Schwedt refinery will be the leading case. No Schwedt, no Berlin, no Germany, no Europe, game OVER… sorry to say. Still, thanks for the encouragement Víctor ! And I promise to keep at it come what may …
Another winner!! Great article. Thanks.
Thank YOU for your favorable comment Godfree !
Gail Tverberg has written about global problems coal production per capita faced first in 2011 and oil production per capita 2018. Only natural gas production is still growing (per capita) but how long. The problem here is that growth of renewables is absolutely too slow. The global share of wind power was not more tham 2% in 2021 and hardly reach 4% in 2030. Some people are confused by numbers of energy and electricity. The latter is however just 15-25% of whole energy in most countries. For instance in Germany electricity consumption was only around 16% of energy consumption. Highest KWh numbers per capita in Scandinavia but surprisingly low for instance in UK.
The lack of (cheap) energy will shrink European industry because people in a way or another have to heat houses and water. Industry used around half of energy in most countries. Even modernized factories need 13,000 KWh electricity per aluminium ton. No wonder they are closing factories in Europe.
Matías, your last phrase moves my soul. I can´t believe how stupid European leadership has become. Please do take good care. Cordially Jorge
What is the point of these reserves if they can only be used when pushed out by more gas?
Adam, this type of reserves are the only ones able to hold large enough worthwhile nat-gas volumes at low enough costs. Inflow from Russia was always a “given” taken for granted, of course. No one could foresee the stupidity of provoking Europe´s best supplier into a needless war. Now Europe has to bite the bullit and make itself responsible for its decisions. Europe long ago decided to marry Russia and now suddenly wants a divorce. Why ? Supposedly to save the Ukraine ´democracy´… Really now ?
If interested, I suggest you please slowly re-read the article and this Comments Section.
Clearly the trains will NOT be running on time. What incredible stupidity.
Thank you very much for this explanation, as alarming and disheartening as it is…
I am based in the Netherlands. It’s controversial, but the Netherlands has its own source of Natural gas and has supplied Germany too in the past. I am completely ignorant of how the infrastructure for this actually works. You mentioned no substitute to Russian Nat. Gas in the pipeline, but could Dutch/Norwegian/Aberzejani gas flows be used?
I attended one of the best technical universities in Europe, here in the Netherlands. My interest was learning how to achieve self sufficiency for cities. Sustainablity. But honestly I learned very little about what would actually be required to do this. Sure I can design a city district that uses very little natural gas or oil. An apartment block on passive sources alone. I love the elegance of low tech
But the whole problem of transition and the economic reality of cities are never really addressed. Facing a crisis like this now, demonstrates to me how ill informed and prepared I am. And I feel morally betrayed. Because for me it was not only about elegant zero energy designs, but sustainability in the true sense, taking care of the people, ALL the people and yes our civilisation, and ecology.
Friends of mine are industrial ecologists working on models of a circular economy for Amsterdam. But even so it all seems so out of touch and inadequate. More like dreams and a concept then hard solutions. Also impossibly biased by their own backgrounds.
But I also have to say that the push to become energy self sufficient or fossil free has not being happening in the Netherlands in any serious way. There are endless model projects and superficial feel good developments, but no serious move to genuinely replace fossil fuels.
Gabe, your sincerity is impressive. Regarding your concerns, I must say that consumer society does not help any, proper funding requires an effective and valid financial system which fiat currency does not allow for, and the transition black hole still remains to be solved. Major changes are required.
Regarding the possible help from non-Russian gas flows, above I have already responded to “Eternally homeward bound”. Please scroll up some and find my elaborate reply therein which fully applies to Dutch nat.gas. I recall that other commenters also responden widely. Regards from Jorge
There was an article recently about storing intermittent energy in an elevated water tank, then releasing it as needed, to convert the flow into electricity. Very simple, since it was just a single house project.
Even I (nontechnical) can see a lot of issues that could arise in enlarging it, though it sounds abstractly great in theory. Maybe in a hilltop reservoir? Awfully prone to unexpected problems, I’d think, and probably requiring a lot(!!!) of time and real estate to test and set up. Any expert thoughts on that? I’m guessing that it would be totally impractical, even taking several years’ work.
It’s called pumped storage hydroelectric station. A lake serves as a battery.
Here is a sotry that more or less explains it.
Actually, Norway’s lakes have served as “batteries” for the energy harvested from the wind via Denmark’s wind mills for decades. Electric power was fed back to Denmark via the electric grid.
But this year there wasn’t enough rain, so Norway’s “batteries” were not full enough to provide enough hydropower.
I’m sure someone else on this thread can explain this better than I can, or correct my poor description.
I am not an expert and until this article I never adressed myself with gas storage. After I read this article I became curious, started with some research and found the following scientific article about underground gas storage in Europe and Switzerland (unfortunately it’s in German, sorry; p35,36 are of importance):
Or something short in english:
The paper distinguishes between Kissengas KG (cushion gas) and Arbeitsgas AG (activ or working gas). The KG is for maintaining the minimum pressure of 50 bar and must account for 30 to 50% from total storage capacity. This ammount of KG may never be undershot or the underground gas storage will implode. According to this paper the remaining 50 to 70% are AG that can be freely withdrawn or refilled without any issues as mentioned in Peter’s commentary. If the underground gas storage is filled to its maximum i.e. 30 KG / 70 AG the pressure reaches 200bar. If it is “depleted” ie. all AG withdrawn and only KG remaining (100% KG) the pressure drops to 50 bar. Consequentally there is a technical storage diagram that shows the injection and withdrawal rate of a storage facility depending on its fill level.
Alex, thanks for your contribution to this debate.
We are still playing with fire right here right now.
Lots of nat-gas fires to be precise.
(1) The problem at hand is not “storing” any additional nat-gas. The problem now is withdrawing the already stored nat-gas or the extraction procedures from its current “storage” facilities or structures whichever and wherever they may be… WITHOUT the inflow from Russian nat-gas.
Such is the problem to be solved, not anything else. Whatever wherever and however has been “stored” is not the problem at hand. It is what it is and cannot ever be changed, period. Russian gas inflows have stopped. The problem now is taking the supposedly “stored” nat-gas out of wherever it finds itself for normal use and consumption as everybody expects.
(2) Politicians have announced that there are no problems — nothing to see here — because European “stored” nat-gas reserves will last till March 2023. Really ? Wanna bet ? Hmmmm… What would happen once these nat-gas “stored volumes” are depleted no one really knows or seems to care. LNG from the US would save the day, no ? Hmmm…. ( we just can´t make this stuff up, can we ? )
(3) Please read my full response to cb56 right below this post.
Thank you again Alex !
It would be nice if the auther would have listed some sources, especially concerning the back pressure problem.
However, the article inspired me to do some research on the subject:
The gas is stored in underground reservoires with a pressure of up to 200 bar. That is in the range of oxygen stored in steel bottles. ( https://www.deutschlandfunknova.de/beitrag/energie-wie-unterirdische-gasspeicher-funktionieren )
You do not need any “back pressure” to release highly compressed gas. You just have to open a valve. However
( https://www.sfc.com/glossar/gasnetz/#:~:text=Die%20Druckstufen%20im%20Gasnetz%20in,auf%20bis%20zu%2030%20Millibar. ) :
There are different pressure levels for the gas network: high pressure, medium pressure and low pressure. Since the higher the pressure in the gas network, the more gas can be transported, producers feed the natural gas into the pipelines or trunk lines at high pressure (up to 200 bar). Over long distances, however, the gas loses pressure. For this reason, compressor stations ensure that the pressure is maintained and that the gas passes through.
The pressure levels in the gas network in Germany vary widely. For example, gas pressure in regional networks ranges from 1 to 70 bar. Gas lines at the municipal level have a gas network pressure of less than one bar, and gas lines for house connections have a pressure of up to 30 millibars. (end of citation).
“Storengy”, a company specialized in underground gas storage, has interesting videos on youtube in which they explaine the how underground storage works: https://youtu.be/7E4xZh6wLuU (about storage in salt caverns) and https://youtu.be/cuFtVcZpskI (about storage in aquifers).
I would expect a capacity problem because the gas coming from the underground storage has to be cleaned, dryed and warmed up. If the pressure after cleaning and drying becomes lower than the pressure in the pipeline, the gas has again to become more compressed.
Thus it may be possible, that the capacities of pipes, filters, dryers, heaters and/or compressors are insufficient, if the demand becomes to high (cold weather, shut down of Russian gas imports). This problems can and have be solved by partly shutting down the gas supply (or by replacing the German Government with a more reasonable and responible one, which is extremly unlikely).
However, as long as the gas demand stays below the capacity of the pipes and machinery used by the underground storage systems to get the gas out the ground and process it, there should be no need for any gas flowing from Russia. This may indeed be the kind of capacity problem the German Luftwaffe had with the supply of the 6th Germany Army at Stalingrad (which by the way consisted of about a quarter million soldiers and not a million).
By the way, there is a high possibility that in the highly vaccinated western industrial countries, far more then half of the population will NOT survive the coming months because the mass vaccination will finally result in a mutation which will kill most of the vaccinated. ( https://www.voiceforscienceandsolidarity.org/scientific-blog/epidemiologic-ramifications-and-global-health-consequences-of-the-c-19-mass-vaccination-experiment ). This will also end the war in Ukraine.
I hope that Putin, his people and the Russian army are smart enough the survive this Covid-Tsunami, which will be easy if you know what to do and have enough of the “Universal Antidote” ( https://theuniversalantidote.com ).
cb56 thanks for your research and enrichment of this debate as prompted by the above article.
And certainly there is zero problem in you not being an “expert” thank God (more on that later if you wish)
For true enough I am convinced that this matter is ´somewhat´ technical maybe ( although not that much really ) but basically it´s common sense, which mind you happens to be the least common of all senses. Still, I have important issues to raise regarding your response. Obviously ego, vested interests and geo-politics are the real culprits here, not you, not me, nor anybody else okay ?
cb56 on a general note, many thanks for admitting and giving specifics regarding the problem at hand.
The problem is that without the traditional Russian nat-gas inflow, the European nat-gas supply, storage and ditribution system would be WAAAAY different and in the very short term also grossly insufficient no matter how “large” the supposed nat-gas stored “reserves” are said to be (not).
And everything would have to be managed quite differently also, most probably without success. No one has ever thought of the current situation actually happening, let alone system designers and nat-gas operators at large. This is a total un-planned very nasty surprise full of tricks, traps, and unforeseen situations and events, a true real-life fully live experiment with unaware living human beings who get to hear “everything will be just dandy fine”
Question #1: Are all stakeholders anywhere AWARE of the above situation and have planned accordingly ? I don´t think so, do you ? In the event that I am mis-informed, for starters please share with us all pertinent information regarding exactly what will happen, where, when, for how long and to whom, and what to do and not to do besides shortening our showers and lawn watering times.
cb56 your quite valid and certainly “iffy” explanations confirm the above and ring the alarm for contingency planning. Should we expect total “normal” service failure ? Probably in some areas, yes. Which areas and how large ? We can´t know and it depends on many things which you ( inadvertedly ?) point out. Sometimes some areas may have partial service (yes, maybe for some time) others may temporarily have full service (maybe, maybe not) and yet others no service at all. It would be yet another huge EXPERIMENT not ever tried out anywhere. There is no crystal ball regarding what could happen, but for sure it will NOT be “normal” service everywhere for everybody all the time, will it ? No, it just can´t be and your response unequivocally proves it.
Dear cb56, today absolutely EVERYBODY throughout Europe is used to, requires and fully expects what we shall call “normal” everyday nat-gas supply service. BTW it´s a very high quality, crystal CLEAN Russian nat-gas. This involves housewives, college students, old and young folks, universities, hospitals, swimming pools, industry, government and business, military etc. etc. etc….and also nat-gas suppliers of course. So your input makes it clear that without the traditional Russian nat-gas inflow such “normal” service that absolutely everybody expects will not be available, gone as it always used to be.
Does this mean that it won´t ever be available ? We cannot know for sure but quite possibly it would not be available As We Know It (“normal” service) in many places. No one has ever tried this out, zero experience. Accidents will happen. Lots of currently stored nat-gas will be left behind. Lots, trust me. Hurriedly over-pressurized sub-surface caverns and nat-gas reservoirs will crack and others will plain fracture. Same goes for above ground tanks. This was never ever planned for. You don´t want to be within a 100 mile radius if any of that ever happened God forbid. Question #2 : once that the nat-gas storage is fully depleted throughout Europe (say in March 2023) what then exactly ?
cb56 I hope we agree that there were many powerfull and fully vetted good reasons for having the nat-gas system designed, constructed, installed and operated as it was with Russian nat-gas inflow up until a few weeks ago, correct ? If changes are introduced there should be consequences no ? Do we agree ?
cb56, I humbly urge you and everybody else reading this now to please (1) re-read the article slowly and carefully and (2) ditto for this “Comments Sections” with extraordinarily excellent input from many posters, including the clarification that nat-gas “storage” is not really STORAGE as John Doe would understand it.
Your fears are most valid cb56 when warning that “… capacities of pipes, filters, dryers, heaters and/or compressors are insufficient, if the demand becomes to high (cold weather, shut down of Russian gas imports)…. only to be solved by “shutting down the gas supply”
cb56 you say:…”… The gas is stored in underground reservoires with a pressure of up to 200 bar…” Please tell us exactly WHERE that is the case, please. Europe is very large and heterogenous so geological variations abound.
cb56 you say…”… you do not need any “back pressure” to release highly compressed gas. You just have to open a valve”.. Of course, we agree. But as you mention this is not the case of HOMOGENOUSLY engineered and factory-produced “steel bottles” (!) An underground salt cavern — or an aquifer (!!!) for that matter — is a completely different animal, right ? Zero resemblance and please let make bloody sure such are not unvoluntarily fractured as that´d be a helluva a “fracking” incident trust me.
cb56 then you go on to neatly describe the many failures that could take place in this nat-gas EXPERIMENT (!!!!) to finally conclude that …”… as long as the gas demand stays below the capacity of the pipes” …( and if it does NOT, what then, vadabooooom ? ) … “and machinery used by the underground storage systems to get the gas out the ground and process it” ….( but this is an EXPERIMENT that European suppliers are not prepared for !!!) … ” then there should be no need for any gas flowing from Russia”…
I rest my case.
Dear cb56 thanks again for your most valuable analysis and input.
cb56 regarding the WW2 most tragic German mis-calculation you say that… “… This may indeed be the kind of capacity problem the German Luftwaffe had with the supply of the 6th Germany Army at Stalingrad (which by the way consisted of about a quarter million soldiers and not a million)…”
Well, true enough historians differ regarding the total amount of soldiers affected by the German defeat at Stalingrad. Still, the 1 million figure (approx.) comes up by adding all of the many Wehrmacht rotations of soldiers throughout such campaign from beginning to end (which were many and ended up being a total waste of resources) and the “other” soldiers provided by Germany´s allies meaning italians etc etc etc which Hitler accused to be the real culprits of his defeat.
I share the same amazement, that German ministers evidently did not consult experts in the gas supply field, before taking crucial decisions on sanctions. Or, ignored the expert’s advice.
As for the specific example given, I have to note that natural gas is lighter than air. So air wouldn’t mix, if it is pumped in near the bottom of the vessel.
Actually it´s slightly worse than that.
It is not only “German Ministers” involved but also every single Minister of every single European country as they will all be very seriously affected. It should also include the most vocal of them all, i.e., the un-elected supra-national pan-European officials of the EC Brussels, etc etc etc
Your understanding of physics here is wrong. Newtonian physics do not apply. This is a compressible gas.
As such, you can allow gas out of a pressurized storage cavern, same as any other pressurized gas container. What will happen as you do that is the pressure will drop. You can make up for that by using a compressor on the outlet. But eventually woul will run out.
Testing formation pressure is a routine procedure while drilling a hole. It is called a leak off test in the industry. It is performed every time casing is set and drilled out. Simply you close in the well, pump fluid at a low rate until pressure stops increasing. The pressure on the pump gauge plus the weight of the fluid in the hole equals the fracture pressure. You would do this 3 or 4 times a well. So very routine.
In a depleted reservoir the historic fracture pressure should be known, but if it is has changed it will be picked while adding storage gas, If pressure does not increase while adding extra gas, then you have hit the fracture pressure.
Hitting this point is not like hitting the fracture point of a steel container where it suddenly explodes, but more like soft walled container where the soft walls start to compress.
The shut-in and drawdown pressures is what you´d be interested in watching closely no ?
Yes, if the shut in pressure you refer to is the pressure when the reservoir is considered full. That can’t be greater than the fracture pressure of the formation.
The drawdown pressure can’t go below the natural formation pressure.
This is your working range.
🇪🇬It will become more expensive to transport oil through the Suez Canal. From 2023, Egypt will increase the fee for the passage of the waterway by 15%.
The reasons for this decision are that the cost of renting tankers for the current year has increased by 88%, and ships carrying liquefied natural gas – by 11%.
The Suez Canal accounts for 12% of world trade and 5 to 10% of global oil supplies. 8% of ships carrying LNG pass through it.
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Onftentimes an analogy works magic.
Gaz reserve would be like electric bike.
Neither the bike nor biker can drive up the slope … both can.
For the bike to do it without biker’s help , the mechanic must be changed , redesigned.
The reserves (reservoirs) were harnessed-ingineered to provide for peak demand.
Even if they could do it without the flow , the changes won’t be ready before peak demand.
By then , the collapse-damage will be similar to a bombing campaing.
I’m not really human (me autistic).
Humans love to talk about things that need not.
So even though the piece responds to public demand , it needs not going in speculative details.
Everyone can bet his house that european capitalists and their God Market didn’t built a flexible more expensive design.
Globally we’re in a zero sum energy game that’s accelerating after Peak Oil II in 2018. What’s going on is the slicing and dicing of a shrinking energy pie. The EU has been voted as one of the early losers. By whom is the interesting question.
I didn’t know the deliberate collapsing of the oil industry started as early as the 2012-14 period. It’s vilification and the BS around renewables became very obvious in the last few years, though per most things, Joe and Suzy Public have zero idea about reality and believe the “green energy future” hype.
The inevitable depletion and decline of FF was known way back in the days of the Limits to Growth report, so you’d think there’d have to be some people somewhere in the leadership classes who understand what’s happening.
Which leads to the interesting question: Are we in this mess because of the deluded morons inhabiting the elites these days, or is there some overarching group driving an agenda?
To prolong the life of our civilisation the simple and obvious thing to do was (some decades ago) to ration/cap people’s energy usage (and other critical resources), but that goes against human nature and would signal the end of the financial system as we know it. Too late now, were in massive overshoot.