Salt Cavern Storage Well Basics

What is a salt cavern?

A salt cavern is a storage cavern that has been constructed by dissolving an underground formation which is made up primarily of salt.  The cavern can then be used to store various hydrocarbons or waste products.

What are salt caverns used for?

Salt Caverns offer effective means for storage of crude oil, natural gas, NGL, and other hydrocarbon products.  As well, salt caverns offer a safe and effective means of storing or disposing of industrial and oilfield waste.

What is the process to develop a salt cavern?

The cavern is formed through the process of solution mining. Fresh water is pumped down a borehole into the salt. Some of the salt is dissolved leaving a void and the water, now saline, is pumped back to the surface. The process continues until the cavern has been washed to the desired size. Once created, a salt cavern offers an underground natural gas, oil, or waste storage vessel with very high deliverability.

How does the drilling and completion of a salt cavern differ from an oil and gas well?

The drilling and completion process is quite similar to drilling a vertical conventional oil or gas well.  The only real differences are that the hole size is much larger to accommodate multiple tubular strings for both the cavern leaching process as well as storage operations.