Underground gas storage site in Saint-Illiers-la-Ville, in the Yvelines. Credit: Gregory Brandel

REPORT – In Saint-Illiers-la-Ville, in Yvelines, the filling of the underground gas bubble began in early spring. Objective: to avoid the winter shortage.

In the middle of wheat fields and oak forests, hides a huge underground gas storage. In Saint-Illiers-la-Ville, in the Yvelines, you have to follow the small bucolic roads to reach this strategic site for French energy independence, operated by Storengy, a subsidiary of Engie. Scattered over nearly 10 hectares, barely visible behind the yellowing wheat, are about twenty gridded quadrilaterals protecting wells that plunge up to 400 meters underground to inject – or extract – natural gas.

A gigantic “Bulls” of methane (natural gas) of 700 million m3 nestles in the depths, i.e. the equivalent of the cargo of 8 LNG carriers approximately 300 meters long. The gas, injected under pressure into a geological layer known as an “aquifer”, pushes out the water present to take its place. When the methane is drawn off to supply the national gas grid, the water comes back.

In total, France has been using since the 1960s…

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