The Gateway storage scheme will be located in the East Irish sea, approximately 25km (15 miles) offshore, south west of Barrow-in-Furness. The current phase of the project will provide 1.5 billion cubic metres of storage capacity, with the possibility of expansion in the future.

The work over the next 12 months will support a commitment to construction of the facility at the end of 2010 and enable the commencement of gas storage services for the UK market in 2014, the company said.

The Gateway offshore gas storage development will use offshore caverns and will enable gas to be delivered, stored and then returned to the UK´s national transmission system, providing a flexible and secure energy supply.

Neil Bruce, executive director of Amec, said: “I am delighted that the award of this contract demonstrates our all round energy capabilities. This challenging and ground-breaking project couples our considerable FEED expertise on traditional offshore projects with our leading process capability.”

Andrew Stacey, director of Gateway Storage, said: “The detailed engineering design work, and the tender process for the main construction contracts that will follow later this year, will support a commitment to construction at the end of this year and the first storage services to start during 2014.”