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OFSO
27th Oct 2013, 07:51
What happens when you pump 1.3 billion cubic metres of gas into a depleted oil reservoir near an undersea fault line ? Read on:

Spain’s government may face a compensation bill of a €1.3 billion euro (£1.1 billion) if it is forced to permanently close an off-shore gas storage plant that has been linked to a wave of minor earthquakes to hit the Spanish Mediterranean coast in recent weeks.

More than 500 minor tremors, the largest measuring 4.2 on the Richter scale, have been felt in towns across a 200-km (125-mile) stretch of coastline from southern Catalonia to the northern Valencia region since mid-September.

The quakes, which have occurred in a region not normally known for seismic activity, have been blamed on the recent injection of gas into a depleted oil reservoir 1.7 kilometres (1.05 miles) under the sea bed at an off-shore storage facility located 22 km from the coast.

Now, prosecutors are investigating whether the Spanish authorities could be held responsible for negligence after it emerged that research warning of potential earthquakes was ignored prior to the plant’s approval.

Jose Manuel Soria, Spain’s minister for Industry was forced to admit last week that it there was a “high probability of a relationship between the injections of gas and the seismic movements on the coastal zone facing the facility.” The government ordered Spanish firm Escal UGS, the majority owner and operator of the EU-backed facility, to shut down operations on September 26, just two months after they began and before the plant became fully operational.

“This halt will continue in force until there is an absolute guarantee of 100 percent safety for the whole population,” the industry minister insisted, adding that investigations were underway to determine whether the plant could be operated safely.

But Spain’s government may be left to foot a hefty sum in compensation if it orders the permanent closure of the plant, a fee that could have serious repercussions in its battle to reduce public deficit.

The plant had an initial budget of €700 million euros but the final cost spiralled to almost double that, according to a report in El Pais.

Government sources said they were awaiting a full audit before they could comment on the repercussions of the closure, if it was made permanent.
The Castor storage plant last month issued “project bonds” totalling €1.4 billion, the first in Europe to do so under a pilot phase of a joint initiative by the European Commission and European Investment Bank (EIB).
It emerged on Tuesday that Spain’s Geological and Mining Institute had given its approval in 2007 to technical studies presented to the industry ministry which concluded that the risk of reopening of the Amposta fault line upon which the plant was built was “very small”, according to confidential papers seen by Spain’s daily El Pais newspaper.

However, the Ebro Observatory, an independent research institute based in Catalonia, had concluded that “such activity is considered worldwide as potentially likely to induce earthquakes,” a report that was ignored.

The prosecutor’s office in Castellon, in the heart of the recent tremor zone, has launched a probe into potential criminal liabilities to determine whether any party can be held responsible for negligence.

Thousands of residents in the affected zone took to the streets on Sunday in a protest calling for the permanent closure of the Castor project, the largest off-shore storage facility in Spain, and to demand answers.
Although no permanent damage has been caused by the recent quakes, residents complain that they have suffered sleepless nights as their homes shuddered with the recent seismic activity and fear the quakes will have a lasting impact on their livelihoods.

Lon More
27th Oct 2013, 10:03
Presumably caused by a change in pressure.
Couldn't the same thing happen with fracking?

VP959
27th Oct 2013, 10:09
The fracking issues associated with earthquakes seem to be related to the lubrication provided to faults by the fluid that's pumped in, I think, rather than the actual pressure of the stuff.

cattletruck
27th Oct 2013, 11:17
Are your tectonic plates sticking? Dial 1900-FRACKERS.

You wouldn't want to lube them too much though which would increase the speed of continental drift and not give you enough time to pack your luggage.

4.2 is a small quake, maybe fracking prevented a bigger one.

The bad things I've heard about fracking so far is that it disturbs and pollutes the ground water, and causes poisoness gasses to vent out the ground.

OFSO
27th Oct 2013, 11:20
4.2 is a small quake,

It all depends how deep it takes place, how far it is, and on what you are sitting when it happens. I live on a mountain and we feel even small ones here.

This is a seismic region up here on the Pyranees, but some of the earthquakes are experienced as small explosions.

cattletruck
27th Oct 2013, 11:59
OFSO, I trust your house is build to some earthquake proof code. At the tops of many of our small mountains in Greece one can easily find evidence that at some time in the past they used to be under the sea. These mountains are made up of brittle porous rock and after a downpour often "flex" about causing small and sometimes significant shudders. I've seen similar mountains like ours in the south of France and assume the little mountains of Spain are the same.

I had a beauty a few years ago. I just switched off the telly at 1am and got comfortable in bed when the whole house moved violently about a foot forward of the bed and then back again :eek:. No tremors before or afterwards - that was it - the mountain 3km behind my bed had just cracked its knees while stretching its legs. Luckily no visible damage to the house either.

Being a local event it didn't even register, however earthquakes below 5 on the Richter scale are often not reported in Greece.

airship
27th Oct 2013, 13:21
How much does 1.3 billion cubic metres of (natural?) gas actually weigh? Not that it matters much when this gas is being pumped (presumably under very high-pressure) into this previous oil reservoir "1,700m under the sea-bed".

Reminds me of all the "sink-holes" involving coal mines in the UK, houses sometimes "disappearing" into the ground.

Why should it be any surprise to anyone here to find that there are also risks involved in "refilling" empty reservoirs...?! I mean, you don't have to have spent 20 years in college and post-graduate studies to understand the general principles involved surely?

Presumably, the project's operator/s preferred to take all the risks of "re-filling" this reservoir "far more rapidly than might have been wise". They ought to all **** off to their new jobs - emptying waste-bins into refuse trucks - "Push the "green-button" so that the driver can proceed to the next waste-bin"...?! :mad:

Airborne Aircrew
27th Oct 2013, 13:29
Airship:

Your argument re: the danger of refilling previously empty reservoirs and the likelihood of causing sink holes holds water, (pun intended), right up until the point you realize that the empty reservoirs have yet to cause massive sink holes themselves... ;)

airship
27th Oct 2013, 13:46
...blamed on the recent injection of gas into a depleted oil reservoir 1.7 kilometres (1.05 miles) under the sea bed at an off-shore storage facility located 22 km from the coast.

AA, I don't often get "to take a walk that far off the coast or that deep". But presumably the government/s and companies behind the project have been able to use ROVs etc. at several stages...perhaps they have some more information in their hands which they don't intend to distribute yet. At least, not before all involved have had a chance to cover their asses, before any eventual shite hits the fan...?! As usual, the EU in Brussels will get the brunt of the blame... :rolleyes:

Airborne Aircrew
27th Oct 2013, 13:47
Airship:

I see how it works now... We can't see it so we must assume it has happened... You believe in a supreme being don't you?

cargosales
27th Oct 2013, 15:19
[QUOTE=OFSO;8119704]What happens when you pump 1.3 billion cubic metres of gas into a depleted oil reservoir near an undersea fault line ? Read on:

Just out of interest, exactly what sort of gas are they introducing into this old oil reservoir?

I can't believe that it's the type we could burn to provide energy*, so what is it? :confused:

*although nothing would surprise me given some of the EU's bonkers decisions and Spain's less than perfect record on protecting the rights of individual citizens when it comes to public works/ major construction projects/housing etc

CS

The Flying Pram
27th Oct 2013, 17:46
Just out of interest, exactly what sort of gas are they introducing into this old oil reservoir?A quick search reveals it's a natural gas storage facility: Castor Project (http://www.proyectocastor.com/) But whatever the outcome of this incident, it does not bode well for the ridiculous CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) experiments which are being carried out in the name of reducing Global Warming.

Although the site obviously had contained large amounts of liquid and/or gas originally, I wonder if they are trying to force the stored gas back in too quickly, which won't allow it to permeate through all the pores of the rock?

OFSO
27th Oct 2013, 18:20
I trust your house is build to some earthquake proof code.

There are two sorts of houses here - "holiday villas" and "residential villas". This is the latter sort and was built by a Dutch owned firm in 1982. Double skinned brick walls cemented into trenches dug in the mountain rock, all concrete floors and a concrete (double layer) roof. It survived the gales a few years ago when the wind gusts peaked at 204kph at Port Bou.

But still, there is always a bigger event around the corner, isn't there ?