Thursday, March 02, 2006

First material call on emergency gas

The Gas supply situation remains "tight" according to John Hemming MP, Chairman of the Independent Energy Scrutiny Panel.

"We have been lucky that the weather was not as cold as was expected", said Mr Hemming, "The North Atlantic Oscillation is, however, negative. This is having the effect of continuing the cold weather into next week. It is predicted that the NAO will move in a positive direction soon, however. This will allow milder weather to return."

"The bad news is that Long Term Storage will remain offline until at least May. Efforts to restore full power to the Rough facility are continuing. Although bad weather is hampering safe access to platform 3b, and adversely affecting Centrica's ability to continue investigations and plan detailed recovery works, their initial assessment of the site has revealed that a significant amount of the cabling in the vicinity of the fire has been damaged and will need to be replaced before normal operations can resume. "

"The gas market will remain tight, however, going into March. Interruptions of gas supply started on 28th February and gas has now been taken out of Short Term Strategic Stores of Liquid Natural Gas. 6 Gigawatt Hours were withdrawn on Tuesday. 131 GWh on Wednesday and probably about the same will be withdrawn today. This would mean about a quarter of the emergency gas supply will have gone by the end of Friday's gas day. Over the weekend, however, we should be able to relax and it is now unlikely we will run out of emergency gas next week. However, as usual this depends upon the weather."

"It is unusual to draw on short term strategic supplies this shows the fragility of the UK gas supply situation."

"National Grid have also updated the Safety Margin Calculations (Safety Monitors). I welcome the fact that they have done this. I raised concerns about this earlier this week with the Health and Safety Executive and National Grid updated the calculations on 1st March."

"I am unhappy that the country is getting so close to a gas emergency without recognition from government that the market is operating at times in a perverse manner. When the weather gets warmer we should aim to refill our storage, but instead imports are cut."


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