Cold spring spurs record gas imports

Suzie Neuwirth
THE UK’S net gas imports rose to a record high in the first quarter of 2013, due to cold weather and a decline in domestic output.

New government statistics revealed that net imports had increased to 14.7bn cubic metres between January and March, up 21 per cent year-on-year.

“This year’s cold winter meant that gas demand was higher than in recent years and with domestic gas production declining the UK needed to import more gas,” said a spokesperson from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Figures from the Met Office yesterday showed that the UK is on track for the coldest spring in more than 50 years, after the colder than average conditions continue into May. The UK mean temperature in March was 2.2°C, which is 3.3°C below the 1981-2010 average.

A hike in expensive imports such as liquefied natural gas from Qatar has provoked fears that costs will trickle down into higher energy bills for consumers.

Britain has become increasingly dependent on imports and was claimed to be six hours away from running out of gas one day in March after the unusually cold weather.

“Substantial amounts of our gas is provided from the North Sea, we also import gas via pipelines from Norway and the EU, and receive shipments from further afield and we also hold gas in storage,” said the DECC spokesperson.

The UK is trying to diversify its gas portfolio. The contribution of shale gas resources are hoped to lessen the country’s dependence on imports.