(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) TAQA, the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, and EBN BV of the Netherlands, yesterday marked the start of construction of Gas Storage Bergermeer in a ceremony attended by Minister Verhagen of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, Abdalla Hamdan Al Naqbi, UAE Ambassador to Kingdom of the Netherland-The Hague, and a number of officials from TAQA, Gasprom and other energy companies.
Bergermeer will become Western Europe's largest open-access gas storage facility when it is completed in 2015. Its storage capacity will be 4.1 billion cubic meters of gas, equivalent to the average annual gas consumption of 2.5 million Dutch households.
This new facility will give the Bergermeer gas field a second life, since the gas originally underground has been completely depleted. Located between Alkmaar and Bergen in North Holland, Bergermeer is well suited to be revived as an underground storage facility. The gas field underground is capped by an impermeable, 20 meter-thick salt layer that prevents the gas from escaping. The great size of the field also makes it well-suited for storage. Gas stored in the summer can be called on for use in the winter. Gas Storage Bergermeer almost doubles the storage capacity of the Netherlands, contributing to a more efficient energy market. This ultimately means cheaper prices for consumers.
Natural gas will remain an important source of energy for the Netherlands in the coming decades. As renewable energy supplies from wind and solar fluctuate, the Netherlands will increasingly require a flexible source of natural gas to ensure that power generators can continue to offer stable electricity supplies to consumers. Bergermeer will greatly increase the availability and flexibility of gas supply, making it an ideal component of the Netherlands sustainable energy policy.
Gas Storage Bergermeer is not an isolated project. The underground storage of gas forms an indispensable and essential part of the Dutch government's policies to promote the Netherlands as a prominent player in the European energy market. Bergermeer will help position the Netherlands as the gas hub of Northwest Europe.
Carl Sheldon, TAQA's CEO, said, "Today is an important milestone for the Netherlands and TAQA. A large and complex project such as Gas Storage Bergermeer has benefited from solid collaboration between our partners, the regulators and our communities. I very much appreciate the support from the Dutch government over the last four years and am delighted to celebrate this milestone. TAQA works in the Netherlands toward delivering energy solutions that contribute to more flexibility and better business for the entire European energy market. Gas Storage Bergermeer is a perfect example of one of these solutions." Jan Willem van Hoogstraten, Director of TAQA Energy, the company's subsidiary in the Netherlands, said, "The approximately 800 million investment in Gas Storage Bergermeer makes it one of the biggest, independent investments made in the Netherlands at this time. A large, state-of-the-art project, Gas Storage Bergermeer also gives an important boost to the development of the region around Alkmaar, where we work, together with communities, provinces and many other companies. In total, this project creates 3,000 man-years of work, 2,650 of which occur in the Netherlands.
"We see the realization of Gas Storage Bergermeer as the next step in securing the supply of natural gas for the Netherlands by making optimal use of the Dutch subsurface. It is a positive sign for the investment climate in the Netherlands that a major infrastructure project such as this could proceed. Investing in gas storage is important for ensuring the flexibility needed to meet energy needs, especially at times when solar and wind energy fall short," noted Jan Dirk Bokhoven, CEO of EBN.
Gas Storage Bergermeer consists of a well site where gas can be pumped in and out, and a facility that can treat gas quickly. A drill tower will be erected at the well site at the end of this year that will drill fourteen new wells. TAQA is taking every possible precaution to limit the burden on the local community and the environment caused by construction. The 54-meter high drill tower will be powered by electricity instead of noisy generators, and a noise damper will also be installed to minimise the impact. Drilling is expected to be completed by early 2014.The drill tower will then be dismantled and the gas storage will be fully underground so that there will be nothing to see above ground.
With a working volume of 4.1 billion cubic meters, Gas Storage Bergermeer will become Western Europe's largest gas storage facility open to third parties. TAQA signed an agreement in 2009 with Gazprom to supply cushion gas in exchange for storage capacity. Additionally, last year TAQA signed up its first launch customers for gas storage. This included well-known European energy companies such as Statoil of Norway, Vattenfall of Sweden, and EDF of France.
A new, open registration for 3TWh (terawatt hours) is currently under way.
It is worth mentioning that TAQA is a global energy company and is stock-listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX). It has operations in the United Arab Emirates, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Canada, the United States, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, India and Oman.