Gas transport company Gasunie and utility company Nuon are going to store gas underground at Zuidwending, in the province of Groningen. The two companies are setting up a partnership, Aardgasbuffer Zuidwending, for this purpose.

The storage buffer will be able to respond flexibly to sudden temporary changes in the demand for gas, thereby increasing the security of supply and improving market efficiency. The total amount to be invested in the overall project is around E350 million.

The gas buffer is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2009. Controlled salt mining will create four subterranean caverns, in which the natural gas will be stored. In the initial stages an installation for pumping up the brine will be built and the necessary pipelines and roads will be constructed. Construction work will start at the end of January 2006 and will be carried out by contracting companies Heijmans Infrastructuur, Controlec and Vos Mechanical Contracting.

Akzo Nobel is making part of its salt mining concession available at Zuidwending and is also contributing to the project management for the realization of the caverns. The caverns will lie at a depth of between 1,000 and 1,500 meters, so the gas will eventually be stored underneath more than 1,000 meters of rock. Gas has been stored in caverns in neighboring countries for many years.

The total storage capacity will be around 180 million cubic meters. Gasunie and Nuon will each have rights to part of the storage capacity. The companies are building the installation jointly but will market their share of the gas independently of one another.