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GAS STORAGE OPTIMIZATION

IN THE NETHERLANDS

P. Nienhuis
J. J. Steringa

Gas storage
By P. Nienhuis

optimization

and 3.J. Stennga,

in the

N.V. Nederlandse

Gasunle,

Netherlands.
Gronlngen,

the Netherlands

Abstract

This paper gives a description of the capacity gap that Gasunie is facing in the near
future due to the depletion of the Croningen field. It addresses the method used to
study how this gap can be filled in the most economical way. The method uses supply
and demand figures to set up a capacity balance and uses associated LDCs for volume
calculations. Some details are given upon the capacity measures that already have been
taken.
Background

information

The natural gas era in the Netherlands, and actually in western Europe, started with the
discovery of the giant Groningen gas field in the late 50s. After the discovery, it
gradually became clear that the field could have an enormous impact on the energy
situation in western Europe. On the other hand, at that time it was also believed that
nuclear energy was the most promising future source of energy and that this energy
would become very cheap. As a consequence the gas in the Groningen field would have
to be sold very quickly in order to be of any economic value.
The first energy crisis in 1973 and the second a few years later changed this situation.
Moreover, there was a growing awareness that nuclear energy would not play the role
that was hoped for (Harrisburg, Chernobyl). As a result of all these developments,
the
policy of the Dutch government switched from selling as much gas as quickly as
possible to energy conservation and thus to conservation of the Groningen field as long
as possible. Tax measures were used to stimulate exploration and production from other
fields. This so-called small fields policy turned out to be quite successful : today, only
40 % of all the gas produced in the Netherlands originates from the Groningen field; the
other 60 O/O comes from small fields (see graph below).
Historic

Share of H-gas and G-gas in


Total Volume Supply

q SUPPlY

volume
Groningen

F
=2
:
1
0

q SUPPlY

volume
gas

0
1963

September

1968

1997

1973

1978
Year

1983

1988

H-

1993

Page

1 of 10

It must be remembered
that the composition
of Groningen gas differs significantly
from
that of other fields. Groningen
gas (G-gas) contains some 14% nitrogen,
which leads to
a Wobbe index of 1200 Btujft- (44 Ml/m3), while gas from other fields (H-gas) has a
Wobbe index of around 1350 Btu/ft (50 MJ/m3). The gas equipment
in the markets that
was supplied initially from the Groningen
field had been adjusted to its specific Wobbe
index; the gas from the new fields had to be accommodated
in such a way that the
major markets could still be supplied with (pseudo) Groningen
gas. Some markets, such
as large industries,
power plants and some export clients switched to the higher Wobbe
index. The Dutch gas transmission
system was adjusted in such a way that two
separate transmission
systems emerged (one for G-gas and one for H-gas) with several
mixing stations (some equipped with nitrogen facilities) to inject H-gas into the G-gas
system. The transmission
system thus became very complex (see attached map).
The system is becoming even more complex since the depletion of the Groningen
field
has come to a stage where free flow will end within a decade from now. Its declining
capacity will have enormous consequences,
since 65 % of the total capacity of the
market is currently
supplied from the Groningen field while only 35% is supplied from
the H-gas fields.
The way the declining capacity of the Groningen field can be addressed is subject of
several studies. The long term strategic capacity study that will be highlighted
in this
presentation
is one of them.

Definition

of the problem

to be solved

The forecast of demand and supply of natural gas in the Netherlands


(domestic plus
export market) is reviewed each year in the so-called Gas Marketing
Plan. This is an
annual report directed to the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs. In this document,
a
25-year forecast of supply and demand is given. Until now, each Gas Marketing
Plan has
shown a matching demand and supply situation on a volume basis. See the next graph.
Past and Future Share of H-gas and Ggas
Total Volume Supply (schematic)

in

a SUPPlY
volume
Groningen
field

2
t
2
0

q SUPPlY

volume
gas

H-

2000
Year
However, this is not the case for the capacity situation. The future supply of capacity
by far insufficient
to meet the future capacity demand. This is mainly caused by the
ongoing depletion
of the Groningen
field. See the graph below.

September

1997

Page

is

2 of 10

Past and Future Share of H-gas, Groningen Field and


Others in Total Capacity Supply (schematic)
30

mLNG

0 Capacity

Gap

E Groningen
Free Flow

Field

q H-gas

1980

1990

2000
Year

2010

2020

The problem to be solved in the long term strategic capacity study is how the capacity
gap can be filled in the best possible way.
The graph above shows the difference between the total market demand capacity and
the H-gas and LNG supply capacities. Historically, this capacity has been supplied by the
Groningen field alone. Since the Groningen field acted as the balance between the
market and the H-gas supply, this capacity is called the balance capacity. From this
graph, it is clear that the balance capacity will be insufficient in the future.
Based on previous capacity studies, three measures, all of them underground storages
in porous fields, have already been decided upon. UGS Grijpskerk is operational since
december 1996, UGSs Norg and Alkmaar will be operational from end 1997.
With these capacity measures, part of the gap is filled. See next figure.
Balance Capacity

(1) (schematic)
1 I
E4UGS Alkmaar
RI UGS Grijpskerk
E UGS Norg
0 Capacity
q Groningen
Free Flow

1980

September

1990

1997

Gap
Field

2000
Year

Page

3 of 10

In the long term strategic capacity study, several capacity generating means have been
defined as building blocks to determine whether or not they are suitable to fill the
remaining gap.
The building blocks used are :
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

depletion compression and infill wells on the Groningen


underground
storage in depleted gas fields,
underground storage in aquifers,
underground storage in salt caverns
LNG storage.

field,

In the study the capacity gap has to be filled in the most cost economical way. Costs of
the building blocks depend on various cost parameters, a.o. capacity, working volume
and geographical location.
In the next section, the method used to determine the cost optimal solution to fill the
gap will be described.
Method

used

As indicated in the previous section, not only the capacity of a measure


but also its working volume and geographical location.

is of importance

To calculate the required working volume, balance Load Duration Curves have to be
constructed.
It must be recognized that the required balance LDC is the difference
between the total market demand and the H-gas supply. To determine this balance LDC,
both the LDC of the market and the availability of the H-gas supply must be derived.
This,is done in the following way.
The market is decomposed into several categories, each category having its own
dependency on effective temperature
(a combination of temperature,
wind speed and
solar radiation). Some 20 categories can be identified (households, greenhouses,
several types of industries, power plants, commercials and export markets).
It is our policy to have sufficient working volume in the underground storages to meet
the demand associated with the temperature profile of any of the past winters.
Therefore, for the LDC calculations the most severe historic winter of the past 80 years
is chosen. For the Netherlands this is a combination of temperature profiles of which the
winter 1941/42 is the most important. The temperature
profile and the temperature
offtake relations together yield the market LDC.
On the supply side, it is experienced that the nominal capacity is not always available
due to technical failures. The failure data of the gas production, treatment and
transmission facilities are used to derive a relationship between the capacity and the
probability that at least this capacity will be available.
There are several ways to derive a balance LDC. Two methods are described here. The
first is the simplest but the second is more realistic since it relies on transport
calculations.

September

1997

Page 4 of 10

First method.
In the first method the total demand associated with the severe winter temperature
profile is calculated. A market LDC is obtained by sorting this demand in descending
order.
To get the balance LDC, the nominal H-gas supply capacity cannot simply be subtracted
since this capacity is not always available. The availability curve is obtained with a
Monte Carlo simulation (this method has been presented in a PSIG meeting). All failure
and success situations with their corresponding capacities and probabilities are
calculated in as many runs as are needed to achieve the required accuracy. Thus a
curve is obtained which shows the probability that at least a given capacity is available.
The graph below gives an example of an availability curve. It indicates e.g. that the
probability of the capacity being larger than 90 is 95%)

Example

of an Availability

Curve

100%

85%

80%
40
60
Capacity
At every single capacity of the market LDC, the capacity of the H-gas supply has to be
subtracted according to its probability. This gives a new series of values which is again
sorted in descending order. The result is the balance LDC.
Second method
In the second method, the balance LDC is deduced from transmission system
calculations.
Starting point is a model of the Dutch main transmission system (see
attached map). Every demand element of the model has capacities associated with the
effective temperature
and every supply element has capacities related with the
probabilities according to the availability curve.
In addition to the flrst method, the transmission system itself (including pipelines,
compressors, mixing stations etc.) and its failure modes are modeled.
The computer model used to perform the network calculations is the in-house developed
Multi-Case-Analysis
program (presented at an earlier PSIG meeting) for the complete
transmission system.
With this computer model, transport calculations can be performed under varying
type of day, hour of
conditions (cases). Possible variations are : effective temperature,

September

1997

Page 5 of 10

the day, failure mode of each transport element, capacity of each supply element.
number of calculations is adjusted to attain the required accuracy.

The

With this method, future bottlenecks in the transmission system can be found. These
bottlenecks can either be solved in the transmission system itself (reinforcement
of
pipelines or installing additional compressor power) or by constructing
regional storage
elements. The computer model can then be used to calculate the required capacity and
working volume of the regional storages.
Schematic

example

of a Load Duration

Curve

(1)

IlU LNG
E3UGS Alkmaar
134UGS Grijpskerk
@IUGS Norg
0 Remaining
Gap
B Groninaen
Field

Time
Above LDC graph shows the size (both in capacity and volume) of the gap that has to be
filled. Note that the existing measures have already been filled in. Some measures
occupy horizontal segments in the LDC and some occupy skewed segments. This is
explained as follows.
The main production area is the Northeastern part of the country (see attached map). If
at a certain ambient temperature the demand exceeds the supply from the Groningen
field, the largest UGS will start producing. With decreasing temperature,
the demand
will increase and the UGS will increase its production. At some stage however,
transmission
capacities are insufficient and force a regional storage (like UGS Alkmaar)
into operation before the larger UGS has been used to its full extent. This explains the
skewed cut-off.
It must
options
upward
the gap
capacity

September

be noticed that the position of the gap in the LDC is not fixed; it depends on
to move the existing measures around. If UGSs Norg and Grijpskerk have
potential in working volume, they may be pushed down in the LDC, thus moving
upwards (see graph below). The required working volume associated with the
gap is thus reduced.

1997

Page 6 of 10

Schematic

example

of a Load Duration

Curve

(2)

FBUGS Aikmaar
0 Remaining
Gap
El UGS Grijpskerk

lime

Another effect which gives a deviation from horizontal segments is the technicalworking volume concept. It identifies the fact that send-out of gas from a UGS will not
be completely limited to the actual moments that it is really needed. In order to be
prepared for send-out, the UGS has to be in stand-by mode first. In this stand-by mode,
gas will be produced at a minimum flow level. The stand-by mode is modeled by an
alarm level (the capacity level above which the UGS must be in stand-by mode) and the
minimum flow (see graph below).
The Technical

technical

k
m
0.
5

Working

- * alzirihi~vel

Gas Concept

working

gas

- -

lime
Once the balance LDC has been calculated, the next step is to try to fill the gap as best
as possible, for all years, with the set of available capacity measures (see graph below).

September

1997

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Balance Capacity

(1) (schematic)
FlJGSAlkmaar
RI UGS Grijpskerk
q UGS Norg

Cl Capacity
%I Groningen
Free Flow
1980

1990

2000
Year

2010

Gap
Field

2020

A computer

model has been built to perform capacity, working volume and cost
calculations.
Input to this model are :
l
Total required balance capacity and working volume, for each year
l
Two LDCs for each year : one for a severe winter (to determine investment costs)
and one for an average winter (to determine operational costs)
l
Building blocks with capacity, working volume and relationships with costs (both
investment and operational costs)
The calculation

procedure

Prepare Capacity
I

works as follows:
Balance

Choose Set of Capacity Measures


1
1Calculate Required Groningen Capacity
Calculate

Groningen
I

Calculate

Build Program

Working

Check Working
I
Calculate
I

September

Volumes

I
I

Costs

Add Discounted

1997

Volumes

Costs

Page

8 of 10

This procedure is repeated For several sets of measures


the lowest cost is the most attractive
one.

that Fill the gap. The set with

The model has been built using Excel. It contains several separate worksheets
and
workbooks
that are linked through macros. To run one case, i.e., to calculate the costs
of 1 set of capacity measures, takes about 1 minute on a Pentium 100.
Results
The current
been taken.

situation
in the Netherlands
is that several
These are listed in the table below.

As a result,

the capacity

gap looks as follows

Balance

Capacity

major investments

have already

(2) (schematic)
1 E4UGS Alkmaar
RI UGS Grijpskerk

e4

q UGS Norg

g 10

0 Capacity

0
o

Gap

0 Minimum Capacity
Groningen Field
8 Groningen Field
Free Flow

0
1980

1990

2000
Year

2010

2020

Note that a certain minimum capacity on the Groningen


field has to be installed in order
to produce the required annual volume.
The remaining
gap can be Filled in several ways. From the calculations
it has been
concluded that the most likely solution For the First Few years is installing
additional
compression
on the Groningen
Field. Therefore,
it has been decided to study this option
in more detail (costs, optimum phasing etc.). As part of this study, a pilot project will be
executed by installing
compression
on one of the 29 clusters of the Groningen
field.

September

1997

Page 9 of 10

Balance Capacity

(3) (schematic)
#I UGS Alkmaar

2o B

UGS Grijpskerk
n UGS Norg

Ei Compression
Groningen Field
H Groningen
Free Flow
1980

1990

2000

2010

Field

2020

Year
Planning

method

The procedure described above gives the optimum set of measures for the so-called mid
scenario (based on Gas Marketing Plan). The calculations are also performed (although
not to the same detail) for a high and a low scenario, i.e., scenarios that reflect higher
respectively lower capacity and volume demand.
The planning method used by Gasunie is that investments are done according to the
mid scenario solution, bearing in mind the optimum sets of measures for the high and
low scenarios. The best overall solution is the solution which has low cost in the mid
scenario but is also easily expandable to satisfy the high scenario and easily shrinkable
to respond to the low scenario.
Each year, this study is reviewed to check whether the proposed capacity
still optimum and whether decision moments are still valid.

measures

are

Conclusion
We have given a short
problems that Gasunie
It must be noted that
description given here

September

1997

description of Gasunies current capacity situation, the capacity


is facing and the method used to study these problems.
the method is subject to continuous improvements.
The
only reflects todays situation.

Page

10 of 10

k
Casunre

Transmission

---~.-__-~.__
pipelines pipelines pipelines pipelines pipelines construction

system

07F Gasunie

Groningen gas
high-calorific
gas
low-calorific
gas
desulphurized
gas
nitrogen
projects at year-end

1l
~@
~0
0
0
@
@
@

feeder station(s)
compressor and blending station
compressor station
blending station
underground
gas storage
export station
LNG facility
nitrogen plant

BIOGRAPHY

Piet Nienhuls studied theoretical physics at the University of Groningen and graduated in 1981.
After fulfilling his military service (Royal Dutch Navy) he joined the EDP department of Gasunie in
1983, where he had a number of positions, mainly related to tools for technical planning. In 1989
he moved to the technical planning department where he conducted various studies as a project
manager on the areas of gas transmission and gas storage. Currently, he is a senior member of
the Business Development Department.

Dr. Jarig 3. Steringa

Education
MSc theoretical
physics
University
of Groningen,
The Netherlands
PhD theoretical
physics
subject: elementary
particle models
University
of Groningen,
The Netherlands

1984

1989

Previous

..
oositron

1990- 1996

Current
1996-now

research physicist
subject: natural gas burner technology
N.V. Nederlandse
Gasunie, research department
Gronlngen,
The Netherlands

..
oosrtlo n
planner
subject: long term planning of supply and demand
N.V. Nederlandse
Gasunie, business development
Groningen,
The Netherlands

of natural

gas