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Underground storage of hydrocarbons

Gronau-Epe helium storage site, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

The world’s first large-capacity underground helium storage facility has been commissioned for Air Liquide.

With the inauguration of the first commercial pure helium storage site in September 2016, Air Liquide provided a solution to the main issue facing the market for the noble gas: rapidly responding to customer demand. The challenge was to guarantee delivery times to customer sites, avoid losses due to helium heating during transport and secure the supply of helium *via *an efficient logistics system.

The challenge has now been met with the new storage site in Gronau-Epe, North Rhine-Westphalia, some 120 km from Düsseldorf. Helium is stored in large quantities at a depth of 1,300 metres in a salt cavern and the natural brine is used to adjust the storage volume. For UGS GmbH, a subsidiary of Geostock Holding (Entrepose Group), the adventure took place between November 2015 and July 2016. The challenge was to design a new specific helium storage shaft. The result is commensurate with the goal. The new site gives Air Liquide, world leader in helium since its acquisition of Airgas, a more reliable and more predictable supply system. 

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