Is Natural Gas Storage Market in U.S. Flourishing at the Cost of Environment?

Published Date : Dec 14, 2015

In recent times, the demand for natural gas has increased considerably due to energy security concerns. As exploration, production, and transportation of natural gas take a considerable amount of time and effort, the storage of natural gas in underground storage facilities and above-ground tanks is highly required. The global natural gas storage market in North America has been growing healthily in the past couple of years. However, some recent developments such as the massive natural gas storage leak in California might change the growth story of the North America natural gas storage market.

In the first week of December this year, the rupture of the Alison Canyon natural gas storage site, near Porter Ranch in California compelled hundreds of families to relocate as people complained of nosebleeds, nausea, and headaches after inhaling methane. The rupture of the natural gas storage site has released vast amounts of methane into the atmosphere. In short term, methane is far more powerful than carbon-dioxide as a climate-altering gas. This man-made disaster has led the residents of Porter Ranch to file a law suit against the gas company. The residents are pointing out that the government should ban the usage of underground injection wells for storage. 

According to a recent report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, natural gas in underground storage has crossed the four-trillion cubic foot mark across 48 states in the U.S. Analysts have pointed that it is 10% more than a year ago and is almost as much gas as the U.S. can store. However, the numbers do not seem impressive with the news of natural gas storage leak at Alison Canyon site that draws attention to the ageing natural gas infrastructure in the U.S. The underground injection wells also pose threat to water aquifers. The ageing natural gas infrastructure might contaminate the water aquifers with such leaks which will create a bigger environmental disaster.