The Castor Project is a submarine natural gas storage facility in the east coast of Spain, in the municipality of Vinarós, able to contain 1,3 Billion cubic meters of gas. The plant facilities take the gas from the general gas grid for storage in the submarine underground. To do so, the gas is transferred via a gas pipeline approximately 30 km long, mostly running under the sea, which connects the Ignacio Pérez land plant to the offshore platform located 22 km offshore.
Despite being run by a private company, the project was put in motion by the government, as a way to cover 30 to 40 percent of Spain’s daily demand of natural gas for a period of up to 50 days. The objective is to cover peaks of consumption or interruptions to supply.
In theory, when the gas system required it, these facilities would be able to return gas from the storage in the same conditions as it was received through the same submarine gas pipeline.
The storage facilities used an old oil well, emptied from 1970s (in Amposta). The gas is injected 1750 m depth under the sea.
But the Castor project seems to have triggered worrying sysmic activity in the area. More than 300 earthquakes off the northern coast of Castellón have been recorded in few days of the late September 2013. The earthquakes have all been less than 4.2 degrees on the Richter scale, but have aroused concern in the population of the area (in Alcanar, Benicarló, Las Casas de Alcanar, Cervera del Maestre, Cálig, Peñíscola, San Carlos de la Rápita y Vinaroz).
Since February 2010, the Plataforma en Defensa de les Terres del Sénia denounced before the EC the Castor project because no Environmental Impact Assessment had been made to assess the environmental implications of the project.
Concerned has also raised due to 2 nuclear power stations located not very far from the earthquake epicentre.
The gas injection was halted from September 16th 2013 and the government is waiting before continuing with the gas injection.
|Name of conflict:||Castor Project Gas off-shore storage in Vinaròs, Spain|
|State or province:||Castellón|
|Location of conflict:||Vinaròs|
|Accuracy of location||MEDIUM (Regional level)|
|Type of conflict. 1st level:||Industrial and Utilities conflicts|
|Type of conflict. 2nd level:||Other|
|Specific commodities:||Natural Gas|
The Castor UGS project utilised the depleted Amposta oil reservoir. This offshore geological structure is 5 kilometres long, 2.5 kilometres wide and up to 250 metres thick, providing an estimated total of 1.9 billion cubic metres (67 billion cubic feet) of storage capacity. The underground reservoir’s size and porosity provided estimated storage volume equivalent to 14 liquefied natural gas (LNG) transportation tankers.
Castor’s forecast delivery rated of 25 million cubic metres (883 million cubic feet) per day. It was thought it would contribute strategic storage and reliability of supply to industrial and domestic customers, and would compensate for a potential future supply shortfall equal to the capacity of the Maghreb pipeline or one regasification plant for over 50 days. Castor’s anticipated working gas storage capacity of 1.3 billion cubic metres (45.9 billion cubic feet) would provide a sizeable reserve for seasonal and peak demands.
|Level of Investment for the conflictive project||2,700,000,000|
|Type of population||Semi-urban|
|Start of the conflict:||2007|
|Company names or state enterprises:||Castor Limited Partnership from Canada|
Dundee Energy Limited from Canada
Grupo ACS (ACS) from Spain
|Relevant government actors:||Ministry of Industry, Vinarós Town council, Amposta Town Council, Benicàssim Town Council, European Comission|
|Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:||Plataforma en Defensa de les Terres del Sénia, Ecologistas en acción|
|Intensity||MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)|
|Reaction stage||PREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)|
|Groups mobilizing:||Local government/political parties|
|Forms of mobilization:||Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism|
Objections to the EIA
|Environmental Impacts||Potential: Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems|
|Other Environmental impacts||sysmic activity|
|Health Impacts||Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)|
|Socio-economical Impacts||Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood|
|Conflict outcome / response:||New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study|
Halt completely the project
|Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:||No|
|Briefly explain:||The halt of the Castor project was due to the high sysmic activity that was registered in the area. Although since then, the opposition has intensified to demand a final stop of the activity.|
|Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)|
|References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries|