Storage operations have kicked off in the first caverns (artificial caves) opened at the Lake Tuz Underground Natural Gas Storage Facility. Once the facility starts to operate at full capacity it will provide 50 percent of the natural gas consumption of households in Turkey.
The facility that was established in Aksaray's Sultanhanı district, located 40 kilometers south of the lake, aims to store 5.4 billion cubic meters of natural gas. It is expected to reach full capacity with the completion of 60 caverns.
Opened last year with a ceremony attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, and Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak, the facility will store a total of 1.2 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the 12 caverns planned for the first stage of the project.
M. Talha Pamukçu, the deputy general manager of Turkey's Petroleum Pipeline Corporation company BOTAŞ, said Lake Tuz cavities were melted down using a special method to create empty volume and that the volume was turned into a storage area for natural gas.
Pamukçu stated that the project was launched in 2011 and commissioned in February last year with the compression of the first gas. Recalling that in the first stage of the project, they commissioned six out of 12 total caverns as of 2018, he said with these caverns they will reach a volume of 550 million cubic meters.
"When the second stage, which is still under preparation for the bidding, is completed, we will reach full capacity," he continued.
Informing that Turkey's current annual gas consumption is about 50 billion cubic meters and that approximately 10 billion cubic meters of this is consumed in households, Pamukçu said the Lake Tuz Natural Gas Storage Facility will meet about 50 percent of Turkey's residential natural gas consumption at full capacity.
"Therefore, this project is very critical and vital," he stressed. "In the first stage of the project, we began to fill gas in six caverns. In 2018, we aim to achieve a volume of 550 million cubic meters with six caverns."
"Negotiations on loan contracts in terms of international financing provision and the tender process are in progress with regard to the second stage," he added.
Meanwhile, the procedures and principles regarding the use of the facility have recently been published by the Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA). The facility will start serving the country next year.