This paper describes a series of three dimensional simulations for the Big Hill Strategic Petroleum Reserve facility located near Winnie, TX. The storage capacity of the Big Hill facility is currently 170 million barrels of oil. Solution-mined caverns in salt have provided a means to safely store liquid and gas hydrocarbons in the USA for more than 60 years. In the Gulf Coast, salt domes have become excellent hosts for numerous storage caverns due to their favorable geologic properties. To develop new caverns, companies are increasingly turning toward marginal locations near the peripheries of domes where geologic uncertainty increases. Thus the sizes of caverns have increased and cavern fields have expanded towards the lateral edge of dome. This paper attempts to model expansion of the SPR cavern field at Big Hill and addresses the resulting performance and stability issues.
This paper describes a series of 3-D simulations for the Big Hill (BH) Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) facility located near Winnie, TX. A previous paper (Park et al. 2006) described the state-of-the-art analyses that simulate the current site configuration with the addition of five caverns to produce an expanded facility. This paper attempts to model further expansion of the cavern field at BH and addresses the resulting performance and stability issues. The standoff distance (SD) is considered a key parameter for checking the structural integrity of the caverns in the dome. If the salt in the SPR facility forms discontinuities due to unstable stresses, oil might be released to the porous sandstone surrounding the salt dome. To estimate how many more caverns can be constructed in the existing salt dome, it is necessary to define the allowable SD for a cavern to the edge of the dome based on mechanical integrity of the cavern.