The Bergermeer gas storage is a planned underground natural gas storage in the Alkmaar region north of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. When constructed, it would be one of the largest gas storages in Europe.
A number of scientific reports however show that gas storage can bring about serious seismic hazard to the municipalities of Bergen, Heiloo and Schermer and the town of Alkmaar. The area has known a number of (man) induced earthquakes during the depletion of the field between 1994 and 2008, with subsequent higher magnitudes on the Richter scale. Scientists from a number of renowned scientific institutes such as KNMI, MIT and TNO are comfortable with an estimated maximum magnitude of 3,9 on the Richter scale, with a chance of occurrence of 2% over the concession period. Earthquakes with lower magnitude but still quite damaging are of a much higher likelihood.
The same scientists stress the fact that an induced earthquake of 3,9 equals a tectonic (natural) earthquake of 5,5 on the Richter scale. Induced earthquake usually – as is the case in the Bergermeer – occur on a relatively shallow depth of 2 km whilst tectonic earthquakes usually take place on a depth of 15 to 20 km. The speed of inflation and depletion of the field, which may be 20 times higher than during production may increase the chance on earthquakes substantially.
A Dutch national economic issue is the waning confidence in the economical and infrastructural feasibility of the so called ‘Gasrotonde’ project, a mega project proclaimed by the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Maria van der Hoeven and heralded by her as an ‘icon for the Dutch energy policy for the coming years. Great differences in the European regulations on gas transport make the project even less likely. Participants in a recent congregation of the’Nationaal Gasplatform’expressed their skepticism. Gas storage Bergermeer is part of this ‘Gasrotonde’ No public source can be cited on the revenue of the ‘Gasrtonde’ project for the Netherlands, nor is there proof of claim the ‘Bergermeer’ project is economically sound.
An important issue for the region and the town of Alkmaar is the damage the location of a low tech /high danger Gas compression plant will do to quality employment in the Boekelermeer region, in the town of Alkmaar. This region was set up as a settlement for sustainable economic activities. With the settlement of the Gas compression plant, it will be converted into a heavy industry area. Divestments for companies in the Boekelermeer will be substantial.
Currently (january 2010) the project is severely hampered. It might even be called off due to some tedious scientific findings and resilient resistance from regional city councils (Alkmaar, Bergen, Heiloo and Schermer)
The gas storage will use a depleted gas reservoir. The working volume of the gas storage will be 4.1 billion cubic meters (bcm) and a volume of cushion gas would be 4.6 bcm. The gas storage will include 14 new wells to a depth of 3 kilometres (1.9 mi), 35 kilometres (22 mi) of pipeline and the gas treatment facility. The gas treatment and compression facilities are being designed as a zero-emissions plant. The project is expected to cost €800 million excluding the cost of cushion gas. In August 2009, Gazprom Export—the export unit of Gazprom—was contracted to supply the project’s cushion gas in exchange for gas storage services and a participating interest in operations of the facility. The final investment decision was made in October 2009. Assuming all permits are obtained, construction will start in mid 2010 with drilling of the 14 new wells expected to start in 2011. Commercial operations will start in 2013.
The Bergermeer project consortium consists of TAQA Energy B.V. (a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company), Energie Beheer Nederland (EBN), Dyas B.V. and Suncor. The facility will be operated by TAQA Energy.