Planning and building of the technical facilities of Katharina underground gas storage (UGS Katharina) are well underway since 2009. The construction of UGS Katharina is a joint German-Russian energy infrastructure project of Gazprom export LLC (Saint Petersburg) and VNG Gasspeicher GmbH (Leipzig). In recent years, large components of the project such as the surface facility (located in the urban district of Peissen, Grönaer Weg), the connection line to the European long-distance gas pipeline system of JAGAL (Siebenhausen/Wolfen) and the gas lines connecting a total of 8 caverns have been built. The caverns were constructed by the two companies K+S Minerals and Agriculture GmbH and Solvay Chemicals GmbH for the purpose of brine production and are currently used for gas storage. Construction works for the gas line connection of the last four caverns of the project will begin on 4 May 2020 in the South Field of the Bernburg storage field near the village of Kustrena.
These four caverns will be completed in the years 2021 to 2024 and after this they will successively be filled with gas for the first time. During gas first fill, the brine is forced out by the gas and after this is processed as a product of cavern leaching.
The start of construction works had already been preceded last year by the planning of the pipeline route, the procurement of materials, the contracting of works as well as the necessary coordination with the land owners and users of the predominantly agricultural areas to be crossed by the gas pipeline route. The preliminary archaeological investigations have also been completed this spring. In particular near Krakauer Berg, finds and evidence of settlement dating back to the Bronze Age were repeatedly documented during construction work, as it was the case this time during the works supervised by the Authority of Monument Protection of Saxony-Anhalt.
The construction activities will mainly be focused on the laying of a DN500 pipeline (diameter 500 mm) for a length of more than two kilometres from the UGS Katharina surface facility to the village of Kustrena. Every individual cavern will then be connected to the main pipeline by a smaller one with a diameter of 250 mm. The electrical and fibre optic cables will be laid in the same trench with the pipeline. The crossings of the numerous existing pipelines of the local storage facilities makes this job especially challenging. In some cases, a tunnelling technology including a drilling rig has to be used.
The construction works will be completed in October 2020 with the soil of the entire gas pipeline corridor restored and ready to be further used for agricultural production.
With this, all four caverns will be connected to the UGS Katharina surface facility. The commissioning of the last cavern is scheduled for 2024. They can then ensure the withdrawal of up to 600 thousand cubic metres of natural gas per hour.
The construction works may be carried out despite the restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. In this context and in order to protect all project participants, extensive precautionary measures were repeatedly discussed and agreed with the construction and engineering companies involved.