Rough gas storage

UK ramps up gas storage capability as biggest site returns to operation

Image credit: Centrica

The UK’s biggest gas-storage site has been brought online by Centrica following significant engineering upgrades during the summer and commissioning over early autumn.

Gas-storage capacity in the UK has been severely lacking and the country has among the lowest volumes of gas in storage in Europe. This means that consumers have been particularly hard hit by recent wholesale price rises as lower-priced gas cannot be stored for future use.

Centrica has brought its Rough gas-storage facility in the North Sea up to 20 per cent of its previous capacity and has made its first injection of gas into the site in over five years.

Despite being nowhere full capacity, this immediately makes Rough the UK’s largest gas-storage site once again and adds 50 per cent to the UK’s total gas-storage volume, the firm said.

Rough gas storage

Image credit: Centrica

It hopes that Rough will help to 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.

“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,” said Chris O’Shea, CEO of Centrica.

In January, preparations began on transforming Britain’s gas grid to accept a blend of up to 20 per cent hydrogen from 2023 as part of efforts to decarbonise the UK’s gas infrastructure.

The UK has diverse gas supplies, including connections with Norway and other European countries and a number of LNG import terminals. However, it still has some of the lowest levels of gas storage in Europe at nine days' capacity, compared to Germany at 89 days, France at 103 days and the Netherlands at 123 days.

O’Shea added: “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.”

In 2013, Centrica blamed a lack of Government support for its decision to shelve two huge gas-storage projects at a cost of £240m.

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