A water curtain system consists of a lot of boreholes arranged in a systematic manner. To maintain a tightly-sealed storage of substances (e.g. crude oil), water curtain systems are usually employed for underground storage in hard rocks. In this paper, several issues on design of the water curtain system for a pilot underground oil storage caverns were investigated in China. Natural and artificial containment manners for the storage caverns were compared and the role of hydrogeology in the selection of containment manner was emphasized. The influence of rock joint orientations on the arrangement of boreholes in the curtain system was discussed and it concluded that the boreholes should be arranged perpendicular to the dominant joints in order to obtain a good performance of the system.
China claims an increasing oil demand with its rapid economic development. In 2012, China consumed a total of 0.47 billion tons of oil, among which 58%, i.e., 0.29 billion was imported from other countries (Tian 2013). Safe and stable oil supply is an important support of China's sustainable economic and social developments. As one of the oil storage methods in hard rocks, underground oil storage with water curtain system is superior to other methods for its good safety performance, low cost and environmental friendly. As a result, it has become one important method for the national strategic oil storage in China.
Underground storage of oil and gas in hard rocks with water curtain system is now a worldwide accepted technique. Kiyoyama (1990) described the state of art for Japanese underground oil storage technology. Hoshino (1993) presented a geological stability study for oil storage in orogenic areas. Lee et al. (1996) discussed the design and construction aspects of unlined oil storage caverns in Korea. Benardos & Kaliampakos (2005) presented the details of Greek experience for the construction of unlined oil storage caverns in limestone formations. Park et al. (2005) highlighted the geo-engineering problems and the approach to design an LPG storage terminal underneath a lake.