Dash for gas continues ...

(10 Jul 06)

It's important that the UK avoids an energy crisis.

An expansion of nuclear power and a bigger contribution from renewables are the long term objectives, but these will not solve immediate headaches - like a shortage of gas and its storage.

This was noticed last year; prices rose sharply in response. This has created apprehension amongst domestic and industrial consumers. Six months later, measures are in place to increase gas imports and storage, but it's not certain that they will be enough to cope with a bad winter.

The dash for gas in which gas largely replaced coal means that Britain now depends on gas for 40% of its electricity. Short-sightedness and the abundance of offshore reserves resulted in under-investment in storage, with only one "reservoir" (the old Rough gas field) as a back-up. Rough was out of action last winter because of a fire, and the storage issue became more obvious. A number of industrial customers were cut off at short notice.

New pipelines and import terminals are being built to ease supply problems.Two pipelines should be completed this year, from Norway and Holland. The existing pipeline from Belgium is having its capacity increased by 50%. These should be on stream by 2007. There will also be a terminal for importing liquefied natural gas by ship at Milford Haven.

Britain uses about 200 billion cubic metres of imported gas a year, of which about half is imported.

Present storage capacity is 3.8 billion.

By 2010 it will be 4.5 billion.

Present imports are approximately:

27 billion (from Norway)
23 billion (from Belgium)
16 billion (from Holland)
16 billion (imported via Milford Haven, liquefied)
12 billion (imported via Isle of Grain, liquefied)

Adding this lot up gives 94 billion. (source - Daily Telegraph, 10 Jul 06)

For comparison, UK gas production figures, in the same units, are:

2000 114 (when it peaked)
2001 112
2002 110
2003 108
2004 101 (source- www.energybulletin.net)

Nigel Deacon, Habitat21

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