Reliability and stability

June 2, 2014
Published in corporate Gazprom Magazine Issue 5

Gazprom building up UGS system in Russia and abroad

The expansion of the Unified Gas Supply System of Russia and new export projects being pushed ahead to deliver gas from our country to Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, considerably step up claims to the reliability and stability of the blue fuel supply to consumers in Russia and abroad. In this context, underground gas storage (UGS) facilities provide a greater safety margin to Gazprom’s gas transmission systems. Even now the UGS network secures up to 20 per cent of the Company’s blue fuel supply during the heating season, while in cold snaps it may reach 40 per cent. Nevertheless, Gazprom Group stays focused on developing its UGS business.

Kaliningradskoye UGS facility
Kaliningradskoye UGS facility

Kaliningradskoye UGS facility

Throughout the year the volumes of natural gas supplied to consumers strongly fluctuate, considerably growing during the heating seasons, the duration of which slightly varies from region to region depending on climatic conditions. In order to meet the winter consumption growth, Gazprom injects excessive volumes of gas produced in the spring-summer period into UGS facilities in order to withdraw them later, once the cold weather sets in. In addition, the stored gas reserves secure uninterrupted supply and, if necessary, a buildup of gas deliveries to consumers in case of accidents. Peak and base load UGS facilities operating jointly with gas trunklines make it possible to smooth out the sharp fluctuations of load, undesirable for process equipment, by means of filling them with excess gas in case of seasonal or short-term drops in demand. In addition, they maintain the stability of gas supply via the gas pipeline. Low flexibility of the trunkline network doesn’t allow to promptly react to a short-term increase in gas demand, whereas UGS facilities forward this task and ultimately – increase the supply volumes.

The need to optimize the technological parameters and capital intensity of pipeline systems is also quite important. The availability of UGS facilities in the regions with intense gas consumption makes it possible to reduce the diameters of supply pipelines with the account of not maximum, but of average supply volumes, thereby substantially decreasing the load on gas compressor units. This is especially important when compressor stations are located a thousand or more kilometers away from consumers, as is the case with the Nord Stream and South Stream projects. In the end, all this secures the reliability and flexibility of gas supply both to Russian and foreign consumers. That’s why Gazprom dynamically develops the UGS system both in Russia and abroad, constructing storage facilities in close proximity to consumer centers.


At present, Gazprom operates 22 UGS facilities at 26 gas storages in Russia: 17 – in depleted gas fields, 8 – in aquifers and 1 – in salt caverns. The most powerful of them are located in the Stavropol Territory (Severo-Stavropolskoye UGS facility), the Ryazan and Orenburg Regions (Kasimovskoye and Sovkhoznoye UGS facilities correspondingly) as well as in the Saratov and Rostov Regions and Bashkiria (Stepnovskoye, Kushchevskoye and Kanchurinsko-Musinskoye). As of the beginning of 2014, the aggregate working gas capacity of all UGS facilities in Russia totaled 70.408 billion cubic meters of gas, which is 2.248 billion cubic meters more than in the previous withdrawal season (autumn-winter 2012/2013). Last year 32.748 billion cubic meters of gas was withdrawn from these facilities, and 38.368 billion cubic meters was injected into them. In comparison with 2012 the daily deliverability potential of the UGS facilities grew 56.7 million cubic meters. It allowed Gazprom to reach the performance targets for Russian UGS facilities in late January this year and secure the daily withdrawal rate of 725.2 million cubic meters of gas (a new record in the entire history of the Russian underground storage system), with the total accumulated volume of gas withdrawn from storages standing at 19.7 billion cubic meters by that time (28.6 per cent of the operating reserve). In the autumn-winter period 2013/2014 the rate of gas withdrawal from Russian UGS facilities equaled 27.3 per cent of the total gas demand throughout Russia. By the next heating season Gazprom is planning to boost the aggregate active capacity to 71.133 billion cubic meters, the maximum deliverability of UGS facilities – to 772 million cubic meters, the average daily deliverability – to 603.1 million cubic meters.

Kaliningradskoye UGS facility
Kaliningradskoye UGS facility

Kaliningradskoye UGS facility

Technical upgrade, retrofitting and expansion of existing storage capacities as well as construction of new UGS facilities are among Gazprom’s strategic objectives. The Company’s short-term plans include a considerable increase in the maximum daily deliverability of the underground storage system by 2016 (to 800 million cubic meters from the present 727.8 million). The long-term outlooks are set out in the General Scheme for the gas industry development until 2030, which provides for gradual strengthening and enhancement of all basic system parameters, which will particularly boost the daily withdrawal rate from UGS facilities to 1 billion cubic meters.

Gazprom’s 2014 Investment Program envisages 27 underground gas storage projects. The main activities will be performed at the Sovkhoznoye, Stepnovskoye, Kasimovskoye, Kanchurinsko-Musinskoye, Severo-Stavropolskoye, Kaliningradskoye and Nevskoye (Novgorod Region) UGS facilities. The work is underway on the construction of three new UGS facilities – Bednodemyanovskoye (Penza Region) in an aquifer as well as Volgogradskoye and Kaliningradskoye in salt caverns.

Notably, Kaliningradskoye is the first Russian UGS facility created in a salt cavern and already operating. In 2013 two of its reservoirs with the working gas capacity of 52 million cubic meters and maximum daily deliverability of 4.8 million cubic meters were brought onstream. All in all, five independent reservoirs with the total working gas capacity of 261 million cubic meters will be constructed here within Phase 1 and another twelve tanks – when the UGS facility is fully completed. The total working gas capacity of the Kaliningradskoye UGS facility will reach 800 million cubic meters of gas by then.

In addition, several more formations in Russia that may be potentially used as underground storages are currently being explored and awaiting infrastructure decisions. Geological exploration activities are also initiated to explore the possibilities of storing helium concentrate in Russia’s Far East. At the same time, Gazprom actively develops the underground gas storage system abroad.

Former USSR

In the former Soviet countries Gazprom uses UGS facilities in Latvia (Incukalns), Belarus (Pribugskoye, Osipovichskoye and Mozyrskoye) and Armenia (Abovyanskoye). The Russian Company is the owner or the co-owner of these assets. In 2013, 2.5 billion cubic meters of gas was injected into the mentioned UGS facilities and the total withdrawal amounted to 1.9 billion cubic meters. As of the beginning of 2014, Gazprom Group’s UGS capacities in the former Soviet countries equaled 2.8 billion cubic meters, daily deliverability – 42.8 million cubic meters. This was achieved, in particular, due to the increase in the operating gas reserve (part of the working volume) of the Mozyrskoye UGS facility from 150 to 210 million cubic meters.

The Incukalns UGS facility of Latvijas Gaze remains the largest gas storage operated by Gazprom in the former Soviet Union. Gazprom has owned a 34 per cent stake in this Latvian company since 1997. Incukalns UGS facility accounts for 2.3 billion cubic meters of working gas volume and its daily deliverability is 24 million cubic meters. It is involved in the blue fuel supply to Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Russia’s northwest. Gazprom is entitled to store up to 1.6 billion cubic meters of working gas there. Moreover, Russian Company’s specialists take part in solving operational issues related to this UGS facility. In 2012 a new gas dehydration unit with the daily capacity of 14 million cubic meters was commissioned there, making it possible to boost the daily deliverability to 30 million cubic meters during the peak demand season. Within the preparations for the 2013/2014 autumn-winter period, 1.5 billion cubic meters of gas was injected into the Incukalns UGS facility (total withdrawal during the season reached 1 billion cubic meters). The maximum daily deliverability of the UGS facility equaled 15.6 million cubic meters.

Countries beyond CIS

In order to secure uninterrupted gas supply under export contracts, Gazprom uses UGS facilities in Austria, France, Germany, Serbia and the UK. Originally gas was stored mostly under capacity lease agreements. Nowadays an emphasis is placed upon the capacities constructed jointly with Gazprom Group. Still, several UGS facilities are being operated on the same terms as before, and that is caused by the need to secure reliable and flexible supply of Russian natural gas to the countries where no UGS facilities have been constructed with Gazprom Group’s participation so far. For example, gas storage capacities are leased in the UK and Germany.

However, considering the high cost (though somewhat reduced recently) of gas storage services and the occasional absence of vacant capacities in ‘borrowed’ UGS facilities, the Russian Company started investing into the construction of its own UGS system in Europe. In January 2011 the Gazprom Management Committee found it viable to build up its UGS capacities abroad for the working gas capacity to amount at least to five per cent of the annual export volume by 2030. It will help to minimize the dependence on capacities outside the Group.

A stake in Wingas (joint venture with German Wintershall Holding) allows the Russian Company to operate on a par Europe’s largest Rehden UGS facility located in Germany. Its capacity exceeds 4.2 billion cubic meters, of which Gazprom presently uses 0.5 billion cubic meters of working gas volume and withdraws 10 million cubic meters daily. Under the asset swap deal between Gazprom and Wintershall, Gazprom Group will become the sole owner of this joint venture soon. The Rehden UGS facility will continue securing reliable gas supply to consumers in Western Europe, inter alia, via the Nord Stream gas pipeline.

In May 2011 Phase 2 of the Haidach UGS facility in Austria was commissioned, with Gazprom obtaining a 34 per cent stake, Wingas – 33 per cent and Austrian Rohoel-Aufsuchungs (RAG) – 33 per cent as well. Its Phase 1 and 2 working gas volume totals 2.64 billion cubic meters, the daily withdrawal rate – 26.4 million cubic meters. Gazprom uses 1.7 billion cubic meters of working gas and 18.9 million cubic meters of daily deliverability within the Haidach UGS facility. In addition, in compliance with the obligations to the European regulator, Gazprom annually rents out UGS capacities to interested companies on the basis of bidding results. In late 2011 the Banatski Dvor UGS facility was commissioned in Serbia, with its shareholding split between Gazprom (51 per cent stake) and state-owned Srbijagas (49 per cent stake). The working gas volume of the UGS Phase 1 amounts to 450 million cubic meters, the daily deliverability – 5 million cubic meters of gas. Gazprom’s share makes up 230 million cubic meters and 2.5 million cubic meters respectively. Later on, the capacity of this UGS facility may be boosted to one billion cubic meters of working gas and up to 15 million cubic meters of daily deliverability. It is expected that in the short term the Haidach and Banatski Dvor UGS facilities will become a crucial element for securing reliable Russian natural gas supply via the new South Stream export gas trunkline.

Before the 2013/2014 autumn-winter period Gazprom Group injected four billion cubic meters of gas into European UGS facilities (including capacity lease agreements and cushion gas). A total of 4.2 billion cubic meters of gas was withdrawn from the UGS facilities during the season. The maximum daily output reached 54.4 million cubic meters. By early 2014 the aggregate working gas capacity used by Gazprom in the European UGS facilities (including rent) totaled 4.51 billion cubic meters, the daily deliverability being 53.3 million. By 2015 these figures will grow as the new Bergermeer UGS facility in the Netherlands reaches its design capacity. According to the agreements with TAQA consortium (Abu-Dhabi) and EBN (the Netherlands), the Russian party will acquire a 42 per cent stake in the project. Gazprom provided the Bergermeer UGS facility with cushion gas and gained access to 1.9 billion cubic meters of working gas volume and 26.4 million cubic meters of daily withdrawal rate. The project was initiated in 2010; its commercial operation to Gazprom’s benefit will start this year. The UGS facility is to reach its design capacity of 4.1 billion cubic meters of working gas in spring 2015. As a result, Gazprom Group will enhance its storage capacities in Europe to 4.3 billion cubic meters of gas (without regard to short-term lease possibilities). Gazprom will use the Bergermeer UGS facility together with the Rehden storage as the basis for maintaining smooth operation of the Nord Stream export system.

Gazprom plans to create additional underground gas storage capacities in Germany, the UK, the Czech Republic and Turkey. New UGS facilities will secure Russian natural gas deliveries via the Nord Stream and South Stream gas pipelines. Developing the gas storage system in Europe will allow Gazprom to boost its own working capacities in the nearest decade to almost 6 billion cubic meters of gas. In addition, the daily deliverability of European UGS facilities will rise from today’s 55.6 to 100 million cubic meters.

Denis Kirillov


Gazprom plans to increase the maximum daily deliverability of the Russian underground storage system from 727.8 to 800 million cubic meters by 2016. The daily withdrawal rate of UGS facilities is to grow to 1 billion cubic meters by 2030.

Gazprom found it viable to build up its UGS capacities abroad for the working gas capacity to reach at least five per cent of the annual export volume by 2030.