The use of less expensive inert gas to substitute all or part of the base gas requirements in underground natural gas storage fields is a promising technology that has been successfully field tested in France. This paper discusses geological, reservoir, and operational factors that need to be considered in selecting an underground storage field for inert gas use. A storage field in the U.S. has been selected to illustrate detailed data collection and analysis that will lead to formulation of a plan to inject inert gas and predict long term field performance using reservoir models.

High base gas fraction, the presence of closed structure or an isolated area away from the injection/withdrawal wells, absence of large scale heterogeneity, and availability of adequate data for reservoir modeling are favorable features that would make a field an attractive candidate for inert gas use. The degree to which natural and inert gases will mix during the storage field operations can be predicted with the help of reservoir simulators now available.

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