Gas chiefs issue fresh supply alert

National Grid issued its second gas alert in three days today as the UK's freezing weather pushed demand to record levels.

The operator's gas balancing alert (GBA) came with gas demand expected to hit 454 million cubic metres today - higher than the all-time record of 449 million in January 2003.

A National Grid spokeswoman said technical problems had led to a 52 million cubic metres shortfall in supplies from the Langeled pipeline, which pumps in gas from Norway.



In response to the gas alert, National Grid said other suppliers were putting more gas into the network and major customers were cutting back usage.



Meanwhile the Guardian website reported that factories in the north-west of England and east Midlands were today having their energy supplies cut for the first time in years. It says the National Grid has withdrawn gas via suppliers such as British Gas from 94 industrial customers who signed up to interruptible contracts in a measure to safeguard power to domestic homes.



The alert was triggered by technical problems at Norwegian operator Statoil's huge Troll A platform. A Statoil spokesman said these had since been resolved.

The alert lasts until 6am and will be reviewed tomorrow. Wholesale gas prices rose following the GBA but eased back later.

Nick Campbell, an analyst with energy consultant Inenco, said the market had responded quickly to "extraordinary" events.

"As long as the cold weather is here, if we see any more supply glitches there is the potential for more alerts," he added.

The UK is more exposed to wholesale prices than other countries due to its much lower levels of gas storage - accounting for around 5 per cent of the country's needs, compared with around 24 per cent in France and 21 per cent in Germany.

Rough is the UK's biggest gas storage facility, accounting for around three-quarters of the country's storage capacity.

Energy Secretary Ed Miliband conceded today that the UK needed more gas storage, but accused the Conservatives of "playing politics" and scaring people with "meaningless" statistics about supplies.

The Tories said earlier this week that the UK only had eight days of gas storage left, but Mr Miliband said this ignored the role of imports and the North Sea.

City analysts expect the cold weather to boost the coffers of energy companies.

Cazenove analyst Edmund Reid forecast that British Gas parent Centrica was making around £1.5 million extra a day in January due to the increased demand.

He said: "In our view, the main beneficiary of the recent cold snap is Centrica, which should see a material increase in sales in its residential gas supply business."

He added: "We believe that, when Centrica announces full-year results for 2009, it is likely to beat expectations based on higher gas demand in December."



A Centrica spokesman said: "Prices per unit of gas remain exactly the same as they were last summer and we have protected consumers from these sharp spikes in wholesale demand by buying our gas many months in advance, as is our usual practice.

"The industry has invested £10 billion in the past five years in developing new sources of gas supply for the UK."



Shadow energy secretary Greg Clark said: "Two gas supply alerts in one week shows just how precarious the UK's energy position has become.

"This second alert should set alarm bells ringing about the future security of electricity supplies. Yesterday 44 per cent of electricity was generated using coal, yet a third of Britain's coal plants will be closed within five years with no adequate plans to replace them.

"In an era when we can no longer rely on the North Sea to meet our needs, the Government is shockingly complacent about the present and future threats to Britain's energy security."

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits