MORE GAS STORAGE IS CRUCIAL TO ENERGY SECURITY, SAYS EUA

A spokesperson for the Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA) has delivered a message to the government about the importance of investing in further gas storage in the UK for energy security.

Roddy Monroe, Independent Chair of the Gas Storage Operators Group, attended a recent gas storage inquiry evidence session at Parliament to provide evidence on behalf of the EUA in favour of increasing gas storage to minimise risk and increase flexibility.

Mr Monroe said: “I firmly believe that there may be serious implications for UK energy security if policy makers rely solely on the market to deliver the right level of investment to meet broader government objectives including transiting to a low carbon economy and providing access to affordable energy.

“Energy security is underpinned by long life, capital intensive investments which require long term financial certainty; these are not characteristics found in our energy market today. We have seen that the government felt it necessary to intervene to help deliver positive changes to the electricity market, such intervention may now be necessary for the gas market if we are to provide the right level of gas security.

“The UK currently consumes over 100 billion cubic metres of gas per year, but only has storage capacity equivalent to 2% of this- essentially 7 days’ worth- compared to a European average of 25%. Gas storage can make a significant contribution to achieving this by ensuring that gas supplies are maintained at times of major supply or demand shocks. It also protects consumers from price spikes, ultimately reducing overall gas bills. Therefore, gas storage is vital for the efficient operation of the UK energy markets.

“We urge the government to look, in detail, at the issue of gas storage, such as they did in 2013. Since then we have seen a number of material changes to the energy market, which have the potential to worsen energy security and, in particular, significantly increase the exposure to extreme price volatility.

“These changes include unprecedented reductions in flexible European gas production (mainly the massive Groningen gas field) and the loss of our own indigenous gas storage capacity, most notably Rough, which comprised 75% of capacity. These detrimental changes to UK energy security are compounded by the uncertainty of the future energy arrangements post-Brexit.

“The ‘Beast from the East’ experience earlier this year, where we witnessed very sharp wholesale price spikes and, despite that, very little UK demand side response, was a real wake-up call and makes this review even more urgent.”