Gas storage: what a passion

9 maggio 2013 / by Pietro Dommarco / Altreconomia / http://goo.gl/ysu9S
Traduzione/Translation: Francesco Giannatiempo

Last February, Eni asked the Ministry for Economic Development to resolve the gas storage plan. No sooner said than before: in April, by an ad hoc decree, the ex Minister Mr Passera authorized a 26% capacity growth. Today, it is almost of 16 Bcm.

Work in progress at “storage Bordolano” permit, in the province of Cremona

Work in progress at “storage Bordolano” permit, in the province of Cremona

On the last February the 28th 2013, by a letter forwarded to the Ministry of Economic Development, Eni opened its manoeuvres up connected to the Italy gas storage. In fact, the letter – including a National plan proposal update for the realization of a new underground capacity storage – achieved the desired result: the passage of a special ministerial decree dated April the 5th 2013. In this way, the ex-Minister Mr Passera – after having decreed the Italy gas market deregulation in the half of last February – authorized, complete with timing, the storage of further 4.038 Mcm, that add to the current capacity of 15.890 Mcm from the ten operation facilities, so as reported on the website of Unmig (lit. National Mining Office for Hydrocarbons and Geo-resources; Directorate-General for Mineral and Energy Resources).

The table attached to the ministerial decree of April the 5th 2013 is very clear. It lists the new projects, the investment range, the intervention and the development to carry out in the current storage permits from now to 2015, year during which it should go into operation the additional storage capacity. An important draft confirming how the current permits capacity development is subordinated to the overpressure (authorized by the Legislative Decree no. 130 of Augut the 13th 2010, publisher’s note). As Altreconomia noticed during a journey set out the past year in the areas involved in the projects, overpressure – despite operators assurances – continues to give cause for anxiety for citizens and for some local public administrators. Under investigation there are always the notorious directions of the Ministry for the Envoronment about induced seismicity included in the positive Environmental Impact Assessment for the Sergnano project, in the province of Cremona.

It is just from Sergnano the rush started towards the target of 19.928 Mcm of gas storage. Moreover, actually, it could be nearly 24 Bcm as it begins the storage play in the “San Potito and Cotignola” (Edison Stoccaggi / Blugas infrastrutture) and “Cornegliano” (Ital Gas Storage) fields, in Emilia Romagna and Lombardia respectively, key regions in the map of “Storage in Italy”. In fact, significant increases – because of the overpressure – will occur for “Minerbio stoccaggio” (from 2.658 Mcm to a 2.922 Mcm), “Ripalta stoccaggio”, “Sabbioncello Stoccaggio”, “Settala Stoccaggio” and “Fiume Treste”, in the Abruzzi, that, with a current total storage capacity of 4.605 Mcm, would be the largest field in Italy. Here, the growth could be of 1.607 Mcm. The present plan would have a ”total cost, full time, whose evaluation is liable to changes connected to the realization activities and to the cushion gas purchase price” of 1.852 million eurs. It is nearly two billion eurs of investments, 566 millions of which intended for the sole Bordolano project, where – as said many times – there are non-stop operations.

Bordolano permit has been released to Eni in 2001 and pertained to the exploitation concession field of “Cignone”, always of Eni, in which, from 1984 to 2000 there have been extracted little more than 1 billion and 200 million cubic metres of gas. In 2003, Stogit took over the storage permit, and in 2007 it asked for a new working programme approval. In 2009 it achieved the ministerial authorization. In favour of the project there were the Cremona Province, the Bordolano Municipality, and the Lombardy Region that issued its final agreement in 2011. Opposing to there were the Lombardy Environmentalist Committees Coordination that – through filing an extraordinary petition with the President of the Republic against the Ministry of the Environment, for Economic Development, of National Heritage and Culture, and the Lombardy Region – they were asking for the cancellation of the Decree of December the 28th 2011, exactly including the working programme change approval for the “Bordolano stoccaggio” permit, because they considered it as illegitimate. Today, it makes impression the emerging situation on the Bordolano territory – a small village of only 567 inhabitants; it is about a restricted area for the next 40 years and more, as it being at risk of watching a traffic up to 100 trucks a day for 100 days long – as the residents are afraid of – and of 7 other wells drilling, of a compression plant building far few hundreds of metres from a farm holiday. Definitively, an area from which watching at its landscape that will be sensibly altered. All of that to succeed and storage 1 billion and 200 million cubic metres of gas. “The Territory Administration Plan – as highlighted by Salviamo il paesaggio del cremonese (Save the Landscape of Cremona) – is not reporting any limited area for those plants classified as subject to “Risk of Considerable Incident” (Directive Seveso, publisher’s note), and it is not considering the potential conflicts between the gas storage operations and the other present close by activities (farming, farming holidays and zootechnical ones) besides of the need to protect the areas within the North Oglio River Park – whose borderline is located at about 50 mt from the plants”. And there is somebody still reminding the fire involved an underground  methane gas field well exactly at Bordolano. The well set on fire for 3 weeks and the Domenica del Corriere of April the 27th 1952 was reporting that “the fire put out with fire. Under the direction of an American expert, Michael Myron Kinley, the tremendous fire of the methane gas well at Bordolano (Cremona) – that for the last 25 five days has been propelling a thundering flame about one hundred metres high in the sky – has been put down by means of a TNT blasting charge on the ground line”.

Timing of put into operation of the new capacities / Source: The Ministry for Economic Development

Timing of put into operation of the new capacities / Source: The Ministry for Economic Development

Storage of Italy
As the Ministry for Economic Development website reporting “the former gas storage tests in Italy date back to 1964 effected by Agip in Cortemaggiore field, this one already exploited for the gas production. During the following years, facing with market and production requirements, Agip turned to storage further three gas fields (Sergnano, Brugherio and Ripalta), all of them in Lombard area. But the strategic side of natural gas, i.e. as effective tool to face possible supplying difficulties up, is entirely understood in the early ’70. Then, it is launched the programme for development that is realized with the drilling of further 70 wells in the already existing storage sites, as well as with the turning of further four gas fields (Minerbio and Sabbioncellolocated in Emilia-Romagna; S.Salvo in the Abruzzi; and Settala, even in Lombardy). In 1984, also Edison gives the way to the storage operations in its first permit field located in the Abruzzi (Cellino Stoccaggio), which, ten years later, is added to by a second one in Veneto (Collalto Stoccaggio)“. According to the last available data, the wells designed for storage are 352, while 13 are productive, 11 potentially productive even not delivering, 18 potentially available for storage, 103 monitoring ones. At present, in Italy there are effective 15 storage permits: 6 in Lombardy, 5 in Emilia-Romagna, 2 in the Abruzzi, 1 in Basilicata, and 1 in Veneto. And they are: Bordolano (Stogit), Brugherio (Stogit), Cornegliano (Ital Gas Storage), Ripalta (Stogit), Sergnano (Stogit), Settala (Stogit), Cortemaggiore (Stogit), Alfonsine (Stogit), Minerbio (Stogit), Sabbioncello (Stogit), San Potito and Cotignola (Edison and Blugas Infrastrutture), Cellino (Edison), Fiume Treste (Stogit), Cugno Le Macine (Geogastock). Whereas, the application for new permits are 8: Bagnolo Mella (Edison, Gdf Suez Energia Italia, Retragas, Storengy S.A), Romanengo (Enel Trade), Palazzo Moroni (Edison), San Benedetto (Acea, Gas Plus Storage, Gaz de France International), Poggiofiorito (Gas Plus Italiana), Serra Pizzuta (Geogastock), Sinarca (Edison and Gas Plus Italiana) and the Rivara (Erg Rivara Storage) rejected one.

Stogit is the company holding the most part of projects. The Po Valley, on the contrary, is the crucial point of a national and international strategy involving 118 municipalities and nearly one million people, having Europe endorsement that – besides of lavishing money via IEB bank financing – has come back to and reasserted, by a Rule (no.347 of April the 17th 2013) about the guidance for TransEuropean energy infrastructures, that storage and regasification play the role of growing importance within European energy infrastructure. Even though, for the time being, Europe can wait. Because, as Stogit executive director Renato Maroli reminded to Altreconomia last February “Over the past years, since 2008 to date we have been having all the time some supplying problems, due to technical or political reasons. Therefore, the problem (basically, the import and storage capacity increase, as well as the network system development, publisher’s note) we have to point out is to regularly ensure natural gas supplying to the consumers. Consequently, Italy has to provide itself with infrastructures, in order to be the least under foreign trade, and, mostly, to be able and facing the domestic high natural gas demand up; conditions that could vary in case of climate emergency or of any other kind”. And Europe will await.

"La battaglia di tutte le battaglie è scrivere". (Herman Malville)

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