The Dutch gas market, comprising some 80 mrd nm3 (2.8 Tscf) of annual production, is structured based on a government policy promoting small field developments. These are given priority over the giant Groningen gas field, which serves as a swing producer to supply the difference between market demand and production from other Dutch fields and inputs. To fulfil this role, the Groningen field has to provide a capacity of some 450 mln nm3/d (16,000 MMscf/d).

Owing to field depletion the Groningen capacity is declining, resulting in additional capacity measures being required. Due to changes in the gas market, which lead to increased depletion of the Groningen field, capacity shortages were brought forward, resulting in three underground gas storage reservoirs having to be developed within severe time constraints. The time frame available to bring the first of these on-stream did not allow for the filling up of a depleted reservoir, and a new discovery therefore had to be used.

The most suitable undepleted field, the Grijpskerk field, had a number of very significant uncertainties, including: Complex overburden; evidence of compartmentalisation; diagenetic impairment; and the need to lean-up the indigenous gas within the first few years of operation by re-cycling. Managing these uncertainties required the use of a number of novel techniques, including pre-stack depth migration, nuclear magnetic resonance logging, as well as very flexible development planning.

Six new wells have been drilled, combining appraisal and development objectives, while adjusting the subsurface picture during the campaign. The plant was successfully brought on-stream January 1, 1997, with 8 wells capable of delivering in excess of 8 mln nm3/d (280 MMscf/d) each. It will eventually have a capacity of 80 mln nm3/d (2,800 MMscf/d) and the reservoir can handle an annual working volume in excess of 2 mrd nm3 (70,000 MMscf).

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