The UK’s largest gas storage site has been reopened by British Gas owner Centrica in a bid to boost supply security this winter.
Centrica revealed this morning the Rough facility off the coast of Yorkshire is back online at reduced capacity, following engineering upgrades and commissioning.
The energy firm has made its first injection of gas into the site in over five years and can now store up to 30bn cubic feet (bcf) of gas this coming winter.
This is the equivalent of nine LNG tankers, enough to potentially power one million homes.
Even though it is only operating 20 per cent of previous capacity, the site will boost the UK’s storage volumes by 50 per cent,
However, it will not increases the days of storage available in the UK – which remains at just nine days.
This is well below European counterparts such as Germany (89 days), France (103 days) and the Netherlands (123 days).
Nevertheless, Centrica hope the flexibility of Rough allows cheaper gas to be stored ready for winter, helping to reduce or stabilise costs for UK energy consumers.
Rough could also balance the UK’s gas market, injecting gas into the facility when prices are low and putting that gas back into the UK’s gas network when demand is higher.
Rough storage site finally revived
Centrica first closed the site five years ago after the Government refused to subsidise repairs to the North Sea facility.
Kwasi Kwarteng then opened talks with the FTSE 100 company earlier this year – when he was Business Secretary – with the UK pushing to boost its supply security following Russia’s war on Ukraine.
The National Grid’s latest winter outlook still warns of the possibility of blackouts in a worst-case scenario of freezing winter weather and insufficient supplies being available from Europe.
Centrica’s long-term aim is to turn the Rough gas field into the largest long duration energy storage facility in Europe, capable of storing both natural gas and hydrogen.
Centrica’s chief executive Chris O’Shea, said “I’m delighted that we have managed to return Rough to storage operations for this winter following a substantial investment in engineering modifications.
“Our long-term aim remains to turn the Rough field into the world’s biggest methane and hydrogen storage facility, bolstering the UK’s energy security, delivering a net zero electricity system by 2035, decarbonising the UK’s industrial clusters, such as the Humber region by 2040, and helping the UK economy by returning to being a net exporter of energy.
“In the short term we think Rough can help our energy system by storing natural gas when there is a surplus and producing this gas when the country needs it during cold snaps and peak demand. Rough is not a silver bullet for energy security, but it is a key part of a range of steps which can be taken to help the UK this winter.”
Business and Energy Secretary Grant Shapps added: “While Britain already has secure and diverse energy supplies, this new government will leave no stone unturned when it comes to bolstering our energy security.”
“The reopening of the Rough gas storage facility ahead of the winter will further strengthen the UK’s energy resilience and make us less susceptible to Putin’s manipulation of global gas supplies.”