Energy firms to be forced to keep large gas reserves under new proposals

Amendment to Energy Bill suggested amid growing concerns over energy shortages

Large energy firms could be forced to hold a minimum level of gas in storage, amid growing concerns about shortages linked to the prolonged period of cold weather.

Just days after analysts raised the prospect of gas rationing, ministers are considering inserting a “security of supply” amendment to the Energy Bill. The government is understood to be considering a proposal by Ofgem, the regulator, that would oblige suppliers to keep stocks above a specified level to ensure recent supply scares are not repeated.

“The Government is considering whether intervention in the market in needed to encourage additional gas storage build,” said a spokesman for the Department of Energy & Climate Change.

Because of its historic reliance on the North Sea’s now diminished gas supply, the UK has a much lower level of storage capacity than many other countries.  Britain has the ability to store just 20 days supply of gas, compared to 103 days in France, 92 days in Germany and 70 days in Italy.

With North Sea reserves now producing less than 40 per cent of UK demand, the country is buying far more of its gas on the volatile “spot” market.  This means Britain is paying far more for its gas by buying at the last minute, than if it had bought the gas earlier at a lower price and stored it in a tank until it was needed.

Andrew Hammond, of the energy consultancy Utilyx, said the UK needed to “at least” double its gas storage capacity – implying at least another 20 days of reserves.

Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch, the energy consultant, said: “We need more storage to stabilise the price we pay for gas and we must get on with this. We’re going to need a range of measures... including tax breaks and streamlining of planning permission.”

The UK’s biggest storage capacity by far, the disused Rough North Sea field off the Yorkshire coast, can hold about 15 days of supply. Analysts said a storage facility of this size would cost about £2bn, implying a cost of about £2.6bn for an extra 20 days supply, the minimum experts believe is needed.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower