AN underground gas storage facility that could be ‘vital’ to the nation’s energy security is set to be developed between Northwich and Middlewich.
Keuper Gas Storage and INEOS Enterprises Limited announced their intentions to invest in further underground gas provision located at the southern area of the Holford Brinefield and surrounding area north of Middlewich.
The companies are at an early stage of preparing plans for the proposed development, to be known as the Keuper Gas Storage Project (KGSP).
Keuper Gas Storage Limited is the project developer, while INEOS as the land owner would be responsible for the solution mining of brine to facilitate the project.
Tom Crotty, director for INEOS, said: “We are committed to engaging thoroughly with the local community and look forward to doing so over the next few months.
“This is an important proposal for the UK’s energy security that would provide vital investment and jobs for Cheshire.
“We are a company that is already very active in Cheshire and we currently employ more than 1,000 people across the county.”
The proposed development would make use of the natural geology of the area to provide underground gas storage that INEOS says represents a ‘significant additional investment in Cheshire’.
The Holford Brinefield is one of the few places in the UK suitable for this purpose.
The natural gas would be stored in salt cavities specially created by extracting brine from below ground.
INEOS explained storing natural gas in this way provides a stable and flexible source of energy and acts as a ‘vital’ resource in the balancing of secure natural gas supplies for the UK.
INEOS has extensive experience of the geology for the area, which is supported by recent studies, and an ongoing demand for brine to meet the needs of its customers within the chemical industry.
As the proposal is for important energy infrastructure, KGSP is classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project , meaning Keuper Gas Storage will be required to submit an application for a Development Consent Order from the secretary of state for energy and climate change.
If successful, the project will commence in 2016 and could be operational from 2020.
Keuper Gas Storage will be carrying out full pre-application consultation with the local community in the coming months.
Details of forthcoming consultation events will be announced in the coming weeks.