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Spain abandons offshore gas storage project due to earthquake risk

04 May 2017

The Spanish Minister of Energy, Álvaro Nadal, said on May 3 that the Castor offshore gas storage field and facilities will be dismantled after final confirmation from a team including Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University experts that gas injection into the field was causing tremors and minor earthquakes.

Stock image
Stock image

"The localisation of the tremors coincide with the Amposta fault line and the studies conclude that these faults were put under stress as a result of the gas injections," the energy ministry said in a statement.

Some 200 tremors were detected in the area after gas injections started in 2013.

The project was designed to store 1.3 billion cubic metres of gas in a depleted oilfield off the east coast of Spain and pump it in to the national grid when needed.

The consortium which built the plant, including Spanish builder ACS and Canada's Dundee Energy, was paid 1.35 billion euros ($1.47 billion) in 2014 in compensation for not being able to operate the site.

Nadal said the field abandonment operation would be delicate and would take time as removing gas from the field might also destabilise the fault. "It's as if we inflated a balloon so that it was pressing against foundations, we would have to move carefully when deflating it as that could also move the foundations,” he told reporters.

“For the moment, the best thing is to leave things as they are,” he added.

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