Thursday, December 9, 2010

Natural gas underground storage caverns planned in Millard County

Pending federal approval, Magnum Development L.L.C. plans to begin creating four enormous underground chambers to store natural gas. Magnum will use water to carve the caverns out of a mile-thick salt deposit under the West Desert. Each of the four chambers will be 1,300 to 1,400 feet high and 300 feet in diameter. The tops of the four caverns will be about 4,000 feet below the surface.

"Each of these caverns will be the size, roughly, of the Empire State Building," said John Andrews, associate director of SITLA, Utah's School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. The agency owns the land under which the caverns will be carved and stands to earn revenue Utah schools for many years by charging Magnum rental and usage fees. "So we estimate that this will generate hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for that school trust," Andrews said.

The proposed location is just over a mile from the Intermountain Power Project plant, north of Delta in Millard County. In 1979, an oil drilling crew in the area failed to find oil, but they did discover a deeply buried deposit of salt. The salt layer is a remnant of an ancient sea that occupied the area millions of years ago. Utah's man-made caverns will connect to a natural gas pipeline network. That will require a new 61-mile pipeline from the caverns to the Kern River pipeline near Interstate 15.

Government agencies have tentatively given the go-ahead. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has released an Environmental Assessment and will be accepting comments from the public until December 23rd. So far, no opposition has emerged. Deseret News