Document Type: Case Study


1 Faculty of Mining, Petroleum & Geophysics Engineering, Shahrood University of Technology, Shahrood, Iran

2 Brouard Consulting, Paris, France


Ensuring the stability and integrity of underground gas storage salt caverns is a very complicated subject due to the non-linear and time-dependent behavior of rock salts under complicated thermal and mechanical loading conditions. For this reason, pressure and temperature fluctuations in the caverns and their surrounding strata must be integrated into the analysis and the numerical tools that are used for this purpose. LOCAS, a 2D axisymmetric finite-element code, dedicated to the stability analysis of underground salt spaces, was applied to assess the effects of various operating and geometrical parameters on the cavern behavior. In this paper, we aimed to give an overall assessment of the behavior of the salt caverns used for natural gas storage. In this work, some specific loading scenarios were considered first, followed by thorough parametric and sensitivity analyses to reveal the impacts of the geometrical parameters and operational parameters involved on the behavior of salt caverns using the modern stability criteria. The findings showed that the onset of dilation was more likely to happen within the first cavern life cycle when pressure dropped to the minimum level. As for the potential of tension occurrence in the surrounding rock, this is more likely to happen by increasing the number of operation cycles, especially in the upper one-third of the cavern wall. Finally, it was seen that the cavern depth and minimum cavern internal pressure had even more important influences than the others on the salt cavern behavior.


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