The Marathon Petroleum Corporation is one of the largest refiners, marketers and transporters of petroleum products in the U.S. We provided technical services for the development of a hard-rock liquid-butane storage cavern, with a capacity of one million barrels, to serve the Marathon refinery in Catlettsburg, Kentucky. It is the first shale cavern constructed in the U.S. since 1984.
We were initially retained to conduct site screenings and prepare geotechnical feasibility studies for cavern development. The work included drilling of four new exploratory core holes in the cavern vicinity. Based on an array of core samples, we developed a geological profile for the cavern and designed surface and subsurface facilities. When construction began, we managed the drilling of an 8-foot-diameter main shaft and two 36-inch-diameter ventilation/pump shafts, while a third-party contractor was responsible for cavern excavation. Work on the project was temporarily suspended after approximately 225,000 oil barrels (bbl) of volume had been excavated. When it resumed, we were retained under an at-risk, lump-sum turnkey contract to complete the cavern excavation, conversion, testing and commissioning.