Oil & Gas

Shapps says he’s confident in UK gas supplies this winter

UK Energy Secretary Grant Shapps said he’s sure the UK will have enough natural gas this winter after favorable temperatures and increased storage capacity lowered the prospects of a shortage in coming months.

Shapps told the House of Commons on Tuesday that he’s also confident in wider European gas supplies, “notwithstanding things like terrorism or developments in the war in Ukraine.”

“The weather has been better than might have been expected and gas supplies are full,” Shapps said, responding to a question about the risk to energy security posed by potential disruption to a Norwegian gas pipeline. “In all expected, imagined circumstances, we will be OK this winter.”

The energy secretary’s bullish remarks suggest ministers believe the chances of enforced power cuts this winter are waning, even as Britain heads into the coldest months of the year with its tightest supply buffer for seven years.

The UK gets more than a third of its electricity from gas-fired power plants and uses the fuel to heat 85% of homes. Earlier this year, government planning documents showed ministers were bracing for a “reasonable worst-case scenario” of several days of cold weather and reduced energy imports from Norway and France necessitating organized blackouts.

Mr Shapps’ reassurances come hours after Centrica revealed it has maxed out current storage levels at the Rough gas facility.

As much as 30 billion cubic feet of gas is now stowed in the Southern North Sea site, enough to sustain the UK for three days, going on average UK demand for the fuel in winter.

Rough was shut down in 2017 after state support for the facility was pulled, meaning it was too expensive to keep operational.

But with energy security under the spotlight once more, the decision was taken to reopen the storage site, located about 18 miles off Yorkshire, earlier this year.

And at the end of August, the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) gave Centrica the green light to push ahead with the restart.

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