The front-end engineering and design phase of the project is nearing completion and work is now underway to secure commitment from investors and potential users of the facility with the aim of it coming on stream in 2016.
Oil company Petrofac has just signed a deal to take a 20% stake in the project for £33m.
George Grant, Chairman of Gateway Storage Company, said: “Gateway is the most advanced gas storage project in the UK that has not yet committed to construction, so we are delighted to have an organisation with the execution and operational track record of Petrofac to take the project forward through to financing and into construction.
“As one of the world’s leading service providers to the oil and gas industries, Petrofac’s experience will be invaluable in realising the project’s significant and strategic benefits to the UK and Irish energy markets.”
Around 100 Aberdeen-based engineers from AMEC, Parsons Brinckerhoff and Senergy have worked on detailed engineering design ahead of investors being secured.
Construction is expected to take five years and involve 1,000 workers. The project involves pumping sea water into subsea salt deposits to dissolve huge gas storage caverns deep in the sea bed. On shore the developers plan to build a gas compression facility at Barrow-in-Furness to pump the reserves underground.
Gas from the network will be injected into the caverns when demand is low, and returned to the network when demand is high.
Each cavern will be approximately 200 metres high and 85m wide and the facility would add nearly 30 per cent to the current gas storage capacity in the UK market.