Heartland 101: Salt Cavern Storage

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Heartland 101: Salt Cavern Storage

Posted on Thursday October 02, 2014 at 01:46PM

Underground salt formations are used as a safe and cost effective method for hydrocarbon storage across North America. In Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, the Lotsberg Formation provides millions of barrels of storage for industry operating in the region.

Development of the region’s naturally occurring massive, underground salt formation began more than four decades ago. In 1971, Chevron Canada created the area’s first underground storage caverns at what is now Keyera.

Since then, many major industrial and pipeline companies have developed salt caverns within the massive salt formation. Because salt formations are impermeable, they are a highly effective means of storing liquids and gases for future use. Caverns are also engineered to ensure they are a safe method of storage, and are subject to regulations and inspections.

Salt_Cavern_DiagramStorage caverns are located approximately 2 kilometres below the earth’s surface in the salt formation. Each cavern is developed over an 18-24 month period. Water is injected into the formation at high pressure to dissolve the salt, creating a saltwater or brine solution. The end result is a large, pear shaped cavern. 

Caverns can have a capacity from 500,000 to over 1 million barrels, depending on the size. Hydrocarbons are stored by pumping them down into the cavern, displacing the brine, which is retained in brine storage ponds for use when the hydrocarbon product is withdrawn.

“The region’s salt caverns are one of many unique key advantages that makes the Heartland an attractive location for industry,” explained Vanessa Goodman, Chair of Life in the Heartland. “In fact, ATCO Energy Solutions and Petrogas recently announced plans to develop four new salt caverns. Two will be completed in the second quarter of 2016, and completion of the additional two is anticipated in the second quarter of 2017.”

More information about ATCO and Petrogas’ salt caverns will be available at the upcoming Heartland Community Information Evening. Held twice per year, the evening is an opportunity for the community to engage with over a dozen companies and organizations. Presentations and booths will provide information on upcoming projects and activities in the Heartland.

The event is on Monday, October 27 at the Gibbons Cultural Centre. Doors open at 5 pm and presentations begin at 6 pm. RSVP for seating and food purposes to info@lifeintheheartland.com or by calling/texting 780.231.9802.

For more information about Life in the Heartland, visit lifeintheheartland.com, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, or email info@lifeintheheartland.com.

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Author: Lamont County Now

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