Britain's big freeze: Qatari tankers sail to the rescue of UK gas supply crisis as snow and ice sets in

The UK is working at 40 per cent above its usual gas capacity for the time of year - thousands of homes without power as snow continues to fall

Britain’s rapidly dwindling gas supplies will be boosted by the arrival of a giant tanker from the Arabian Gulf today, as the unseasonably severe March weather continues to place increasing demands on the National Grid.

The 350m Varga is expected to dock at Milford Haven in Wales to supply Britain with 266,000 cubic metres of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Another tanker, the Mekaines, docked at the Isle of Grain in Kent yesterday. Both vessels have come from Qatar. Together they carry enough gas to meet Britain’s needs for just 12 hours.

The continuing wintry weather had depleted gas reserves to about 10 per cent of capacity – enough to supply the country for just 36 hours. Stored gas is used as a back-up, so low reserves do not mean an imminent blackout. The Government has insisted gas supplies will not run out despite the extended cold snap. The Energy minister, John Hayes, has admitted that storage levels are low and has also told the National Grid to increase the flow of gas from Norway and the North Sea.

The country is currently working at 40 per cent above its usual gas capacity for this time of year and the price of gas hit record levels of 150p per therm (100 cubic metres) on Friday after a key pipeline between the UK and Belgium temporarily broke down.

Increasing gas insecurity has made the UK an attractive market for Qatari gas. A recent delivery of LNG from the Gulf kingdom was reported to have been worth £40m. Buying in LNG is not considered a long-term solution to Britain’s gas needs, but is increasingly used to plug holes in demand.

Even as the much-needed gas reserves arrived yesterday, thousands of homes throughout the country remained without power as supply lines were disrupted by further snow. Outages affected 12,500 properties in Northern Ireland, as many as 10,000 in Scotland, 500 in Wales and around 200 in west Cumbria in England.

In some of the worst-hit rural areas, police said villagers had been “cut-off” and were at risk of running out of food. Chief Inspector Derry Crorken of Lancashire Police said officers “simply couldn’t get to” villages in the area where a man was found dead under a foot of snow on Saturday.

Police believe that 25-year-old Gary Windle, who was found near Briercliffe, Burnley, had tried to walk home in sub-zero temperatures after meeting friends on Friday night.  Ch Insp Crorken said conditions in the area, including the villages of Brierfield, Briercliffe and Wycoller were “absolutely treacherous”.

In Northern Ireland, another of the worst-hit areas, emergency oxygen supplies were airlifted to an elderly man trapped by heavy snow. He was one of thousands of victims of blizzard conditions which have lashed the region over the weekend and caused snowdrifts up to 18 feet high.

In Scotland, rural parts of the Highlands and Islands were left without power for a second night running.

Flights were suspended at Leeds Bradford Airport and passengers faced delays for a second day at East Midlands Airport. In Cumbria, dozens of people were forced to abandon their cars and spend the night in local hotels after snow drifts caused by 45mph winds made driving impossible on the A595 late on Saturday. The unseasonal weather has so far claimed at least three lives. The body of a 57-year-old man was found in the Scottish Highlands on Saturday.

On Friday a woman was killed after her house in Looe, Cornwall, collapsed in torrential rain. Police are also investigating whether wintry conditions contributed to the death of a man found in the Wick River in the northern Highlands.

There will be little respite from freezing temperatures anywhere today, according to the Met Office. Unsettled conditions are likely to return over the Easter weekend, with rain possibly preceded by heavy snow – cutting the odds on the prospect of a first white Easter since 2008.

Life and Style
life
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
Environment
environmentCrop pests are 'grave threat to global food security'
News
i100
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
News
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
people
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Sport
footballAnd Liverpool are happy despite drawing European champions
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Technology Teacher - Food & Textiles

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Food Tech/Textiles Teacher We ...

Head of Marketing (Online & Offline, Media, Digital, Strategy)

£85000 - £100000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing - Slough, Berkshi...

Humanities Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Humanities, Religious Education ...

Physics Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Physics Teacher Long Term from S...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone