The future of energy supply
Caverns as an important pillar for the future of energy supply
Caverns allow energy to be stored in the form of oil or gas. They thus make an important contribution to a secure and stable energy supply.
This has many advantages for the Federal Republic of Germany, for people and for the environment. In the event of supply bottlenecks, we are better protected by storing energy in caverns.
Oil crises and Ukraine crisis
The oil crises of 1973 and 1979 in particular showed how important it is to store energy reserves. The Federal Republic of Germany therefore committed itself at an early stage to storing a minimum stockpile. A large part of the strategic crude oil reserve is stored in the Etzel caverns. Together with gas storage, this makes Germany and the neighboring countries connected to the cavern field more independent of political developments in the countries of origin.
The supply of natural gas is playing an increasingly important role in energy supply. This is demonstrated by the billions invested in the Baltic Sea pipeline and other supply systems.
The Ukraine crisis in 2022 has once again underlined the importance of strategic energy reserves.
Cavern storage today and tomorrow
With regard to oil, as well as gas, the installation of (underground) cavern storage has proven its worth in ensuring security of supply in Germany. With underground storage, an extremely cost-effective, safe and environmentally friendly alternative has been chosen.
Even with greater expansion of renewable energies, caverns as large-scale storage facilities can make a valuable contribution to security of supply in Germany and Europe. For example, it is conceivable in the future to store wind power converted into hydrogen or another storage medium such as biomethane in the caverns. STORAG ETZEL GmbH is open to this development.
Already today, the current expansion of caverns supports economic growth and prosperity of the people in Germany and secures jobs in the region through investments and for additional tax revenues here locally in Lower Saxony.
A secure and economical supply of energy is a basic prerequisite for the well-being of the population. The caverns in the Etzel salt dome play their part in this.
Etzel energy storage facility secures oil supply for various European countries
With over 10 million cubic meters of crude oil stored long-term in more than 20 caverns in Etzel, STORAG ETZEL is one of the largest crude oil storage facilities in Europe. The amount of oil stored underground in Etzel today in an environmentally friendly manner would require 100 tanks above ground in a conventional tank farm covering an area of 8 km².
The crude oil is used by oil stockpiling associations of various European countries as a national crisis stockpile. Crude oil is preferably stored underground in caverns and close to logistical hubs, through which refineries can be supplied if necessary.
The Etzel site is connected to the tank farm of the Nord-West-Ölleitungsgesellschaft in Wilhelmshaven refineries. From there, the crude oil can be sent for processing either via pipelines or ocean-going vessels.
The STORAG ETZEL Etzel cavern facility thus supports not only Germany's security of supply, but also other EU countries due to its excellent location and existing infrastructure - a piece of functioning European cooperation.
Why store natural gas in salt caverns?
Natural gas production and pipeline transport from the distant natural gas fields is normally continuous and thus not in line with demand, because significantly more natural gas is required in the winter half-year than in the summer half-year. With the help of cavern storage facilities, it is possible to compensate for peaks in demand in winter, as well as fluctuations or even interruptions in supply.
Since 2007, the STORAG ETZEL cavern facility has developed from a crude oil storage facility to one of the largest gas storage sites in Europe. Beyond the 75 caverns existing in 2017 with a geometric storage volume of around 46 million cubic meters of oil and gas, further storage caverns for gas can be created in the Etzel salt dome if required. Already today, a considerable part of the total volume of all German natural gas reserves is stored in Etzel.
A major infrastructure project directly related to the STORAG ETZEL Etzel site was completed in 2011: The Bunde-Etzel Pipeline (BEP). This connects the cavern facility over 60 km with the gas pipeline hub in Bunde/Oude Statenzijl and connects Etzel to the Dutch gas network. In 2012, 3 new gas stations (customers) were also commissioned at the Etzel site.