Wednesday, January 27, 2010

MRS - now below previous low point

At 6am on 15th January MRS was at 4,347. We have had relatively mild weather since then, but with a cold day yesterday an additional 37mcm was taken from MRS. That was on top of 17mcm the day before. This takes MRS down below that earlier low point. It is now at 4,298 GWh.

From an Engineer's perspective the failure to reinject gas in substantial quantities in relatively mild weather is a flaw in the system.

The problem is that the decisions are driven not by a desire for resiliance, but on a risk profile and desire to resell the gas later at a profit. Excessive stored gas loses money for those storing it.

Whether this matters in practise depends on a mixture of weather and whether there are any other technical failures - such as the Troll problem.
2010 01 27 MRS graph
At least the weather is looking up at the moment.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Colder weather again

The weather does not look cold enough as yet to challenge the energy system (although it may do some harm to prices).

What should be noted over the past week or so, however, is how little gas has been reinjected into storage.

Demand has been as low as 352 mcm/d, but non storage supply has gone down as well. Hence there has been only 326 GWh reinjected into MRS. That's only just over 30 mcm.

It is the interrelationship between storage and weather that is particularly problematic. On an aggregate basis the country resorts to stored gas too quickly.
Some needs to be kept firstly to cope with infrastructure failure and then secondly for high demand.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Trigger back up again

With the cold snap having ceased demand is now in the comfort zone under 400 mcm/d. From an engineering perspective I am unhappy at the low level of reinjection into medium range and short range storage.

Yesterday, for example, demand was 352, but non storage supply was only 346 with 5 mcm into MRS and 11 mcm out of LRS.

NSS is supposed to be around 363 which should have enabled more injection into storage and nothing to be taken from LRS. However, that is the way the rules fail to work properly.

Malcolm Wicks has spotted this now he is no longer the minister.

As usual, however, this won't do any harm unless we get too much cold weather.

It remains, however, that we cannot cope with the National Grid's estimated peak demand.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Letter to FT

Jeremy Nicholson of the Energy Intensive Users Group and Stephen Radley of the Engineering Employers Federation have written a letter to the FT which is published today.

The link gives the letter.

The conclusions are:
Easily accessible gas from British North Sea fields is accounting for an ever smaller share of our supply. The longer and more complex gas supply chains become, the greater the risk a disruption will occur at one link along the chain. There is, therefore, a real risk that disruptions to supply could become more frequent. Further cut-offs would hit manufacturing hard, especially energy intensive industries, and risk damaging the UK's reputation as well as future inward investment.

Short, medium and long-term problems remain with our energy system and need addressing urgently. EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, and the Energy Intensive Users Group are therefore reiterating our long-standing call for an urgent and thorough review of the options available to ensure that adequate gas storage facilities are built and stocked.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

GBA Trigger Cut to 447.5 mcm/d

The trigger for a gas balance alert has been cut substantially. This has not been explained by National Grid, but I would assume it is because of there being limited stored gas.

As at 6am this morning there was 2 days of Short Range Storage 728 GWh at 57% of capacity. 8 days of Medium Range Storage 4907 GWh (at maximum capacity) with 50% full and 59 days of LRS.

LRS will continue running at 44-45 mcm/d. MRS is not being used at maximum capacity. At a guess the system will become less stressed over the weekend. It may even be possible to reinject gas into SRS and put the trigger back up.

As at now very little MRS is being used and Norway is running at over 70 mcm. We could be over the current hiccup now.

Ormen Lange is back up

It looks like Ormen Lange was back up this morning which is why Langeled was running about 65 mcm/d. Sadly we are still taking gas from Medium Range Storage (at a lower rate), but I would not be surprised if gas was being reliquified for the Short Range Storage.

The Telegraph is reporting that the cost of domestic gas bills will rise.

This is the consequence of running a system "on the edge". Domestic consumers cannot respond to short term price signals unlike big gas users and end up being hit by the price implications of shortages.

Langeled back up

The following is a chart of flows from the Langeled pipeline. Whilst it remains that high we won't see a reduction in the GBA trigger. However, MRS is still being used.

Exactly what is happening at the other end of the pipeline is unclear. Ormen Lange is thought to be still down at 8am. If that is true then this gas is coming from somewhere else.

2010 01 12 langeled 24 hours

Monday, January 11, 2010

Gas Balance Alert No 4 - for today

National Grid declared the 4th GBA in less than a fortnight and only the 5th ever today.

This again was caused by a cut in Norwegian imports.

It looks like the GBA trigger is about to be cut. SRS is really short and they cannot rely on that much from Norway.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Saturday's NSS falls to 346

With 93 mcm from storage (LRS: 44, MRS: 37, SRS: 11), but only demand of 439 that gives Non Storage supply of 346 which is less than the assumed figure of 363.

We know that a lot of this is from the reduction in Norwegian supplies. It is worth looking at storage usage from 1st Jan as follows. This demonstrates Rough thudding away providing a reliable (apart from in March 2006) 44-45 mcm/d and short term usage of MRS and SRS.

2010 01 10 storage so far

As at now, however, there is a call on SRS at Avonmouth - which really shouldn't be the case and Langeled is running at 27mcm/d. Today's forecast demand is 422.5 and tomorrow 424.

Gas Balance Alert for Saturday

These are the system messages over the weekend (non routine). I think they mean 9.10 in the first message. It does seem that Saturday's GBA was caused by the dramatic fall in flows from Langeled.

10/01/2010 10/01/2010 06:03 The GBA for Gas Day 10/01/10 ceased at 05:59 this morning. There is currently no GBA for Gas Day 10/01/10. The GBA Alert Status and Trigger Level for tomorrow will be published as usual on the National Grid website following the 13:00 demand forecast. The GBA Trigger Level assumptions remain under review and any changes to the non storage supply assumptions will be published on the NG website.

10/01/2010 10/01/2010 00:51 :A firm capacity shortfall has been indentified and a request is made for entry capacity buyback offers at Milford Haven.

09/01/2010 09/01/2010 23:55 National Grid is Scaling Back interruptible capacity 100% at MILFORD HAVEN from 0100hrs gas day 09/01/10. ICF= 0. Please see Gemini for details.

09/01/2010 09/01/2010 17:11 GBA National Grid has declared a GBA for Gas Day 09th January 2010.

Langeled over the weekend - New Gas Balance Alert on Saturday

This is a chart of Langeled's NTS input figures over the last 24 hours.
2010 01 10 langeled 24 hours
Paula pointed out that there was a new GBA on Saturday. The storage figures are released after 4pm and we won't see what has happened to storage until after that.

I won't be able to find out why Langeled dropped until Monday. However, looking at the situation now were are using short range storage today - which we really should not have to.

The problem is the usual one of resorting to storage as the first option rather than importing gas.

What is unsure is whether it is a market decision to stop importing via langeled or whether it is a technical priority (such as a problem with A Troll or something).

The market problem is that if someone owns stored gas and can sell it at a profit they will do so. If the stored gas is cheaper than an import then the stored gas will be sold. However, from a resiliance perspective we need the stored gas to maintain the system.

Today's demand is forecast at a relatively low figure of 421.3 (13.01). We should not be calling on short term storage, but it seems that SRS is being used.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Impressive 401 mcm of NSS

Friday delivered an impressive 401 mcm of gas from imports and the north sea. This meant that only 17 mcm was taken from (medium and short range) storage.

This raises the obvious question as to why we keep withdrawing gas from storage when gas is available to import.

That is the basis of my early day motion. In theory it is possible to reinject gas into medium range storage over the weekend, but I don't expect that to happen. The real time supply figures imply a continuing reduction.

However, that is the real problem. We are likely to have a reduction in NSS over the weekend.

MRS had 5862 GWh in storage at 6am this morning. That is over 500 mcm and we only took 17 mcm from storage.

However, it depends where things go from here. The real question is what the maximum real deliverability from NSS is. Supply is coping in part from switching off part of the economy.

As usual everything depends upon the weather.

However, it is more obvious that the real priority is the treatment of stored supplies against non-stored supplies.

Another Rough would solve the storage issues, but the more recent problem has been the over use of stored supplies when non-stored is available/possible. It is important to remember that according to National Grid the weather is currently not that cold and that the peak potential coldness is at the end of Jan rather than now.

Friday, January 08, 2010

10:01 - forecast demand 462.1 GBA trigger 462.2

So close.

I think NSS is running above 363 mcm/d, but the system is on another knifeedge.

The Troll question

Yesterday's GBA (but not the interruptions) was caused by a problem with the Troll field. Norway face a number of challenges as to what to do with gas. One thing they can do is to reinject it into other fields to maintain pressure for oil extraction. Alternatively it can be piped elsewhere.

The following is a rather badly formatted chart of the flows from the Langeled pipeline in 2010. The National Grid website will do nice charts, but it is a very unreliable website that often crashes. Hence I have had to do this from the data instead.
2010 08 langeled variability

Note the variability. Remember that 70 mcm/d is a large proportion of the 450 or so that we are using. The variability is what causes problems in the UK.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Todays Gas Balancing Alert

There is Gas Balancing Alert as well today. At 11.56
National Grid has declared a GBA for Gas Day 07/01/2010. National Grid is now seeking offers for single day trades on the OTC or multiple day trades on OCM and/or OTC. Please note OTC offers can only be made by non OCM subscribers.
It looks like the tap was turned down on Langeled from around 70 mcm/d to about 20 mcm/d. Other sources are being turned up. One question people have been looking at is whether Norway will send gas to the Continent or to England.

National Grid Invokes NTS Interruption

The following message was issued at 6.45pm last night.
:GENERAL NOTIFICATION OF National Grid INVOKED NTS INTERRUPTION. NTS sites affected: yes. Gasday: 06/01/2010. Start time: 00.00 hrs. Affected shippers will be advised of details shortly.
This is a step up from a Gas Balancing Alert. It means that some sites which draw gas directly from the National Transmission System have been cut off.

The gas day starts at 6am. Hence one presumes that this happened at midnight last night.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Thursday looking close for Gas Balancing Alert

As at 13.05 the GBA trigger for Thursday is 461.20 and the forecast demand is 459.6.

The problem is, however, that the current estimate for Non-storage supply (NSS) is slightly higher than the NSS actually is.

The system will cope because there remains some storage with less than 2 days supply that can be used (as well as the linepack).

However, the system is facing a severe challenge. I have tabled a motion to get the government to have a serious and urgent review of the use of stored gas. However, they are in a bit of an internal crisis at the moment so I am not sure they will give this the appropriate attention.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Storage Figures Analysis

The figures for Monday's gas usage have now been released.

Range Before After usage days left
Short 1,123 875 248 3.528225806
Medium 7,498 7,068 430 16.4372093
Long 30,472 29,990 482 62.21991701

The figures are in GWh. Although demand has gone up, the use of short term storage has gone down. Personally I would prefer to do some wider demand management. I think we are far too close to the edge for safety. However, this is so massively weather dependent that it may not be a problem. At the time of writing it looks like only around 30 GWh of srs will be used today.

Obviously there is a problem some days out with Medium Range Storage

GBA Trigger Revision

National Grid have now reviewed the GBA trigger upwards to 461.20. That is not unreasonable as the trigger should include all the available storage sources. The underlying supply via the various pipelines, from LNG and from the UK Continental Shelf is variable. There is a working assumption from Winter Outlook, but an alternative approach is to look at demand and subtract the figures from storage then add the storage capacity back on.

The problem, however, is that if we are using Short Term storage then there is only a few days of that and medium term is only 20 days. Long Term Storage from the Rough field is essentially a relatively reliable supply source over months.

At the weekends gas demand goes down. That may allow a reinstatement of some storage, but it also may not.

2.4 mcm/d off another GBA

What that means is that the trigger for another Gas Balancing Alert is 449.6 million cubic metres of gas per day and today's forecast demand is 447.2. Tomorrows forecast as at now is 447.8. The margin of safety is about half a percent. Admittedly that is safety before a GBA rather than something more extreme.

You can see from the previous post that some short range storage is being used. At some point that reduces the GBA trigger level.

When figures are released later today I will do some estimates. I am hoping to get into Justice Questions, but have been held back a bit by the snow.

The big storage question

The following is a storage usage report for a period from 4th Jan to 5th Jan. This is after the Gas Balancing Alert. On this there is still some gas being taken from Partington and there has been gas taken from the other short term storage sites (Avonmouth and Glenmavis) although Dynevor has not been used.
2010 01 05 storage usage
The problem is that the main variability of demand is linked to the weather. The actual storage used figures will not be available until 4pm (for up to 6am in the morning) although a guess can be made from these figures.

Gas cannot be cut off in the same way as a power cut. One large industrial use is for electricity generation. Some of this can transfer to using oil, but electricity usage also goes up in cold weather.

Things are not as bad as from 2005-7, but a prolonged cold spell will cause difficulties.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Gas Balancing Alert Trigger: Maximum Supply 10% less than Peak Demand

Knowing politics as I do I am not surprised that nothing has been done to improve storage levels in the UK.

Every day there is a calculation as to the maximum supply possible. Strictly that is not the maximum possible supply as storage sites with less than 2 days storage are excluded from the calculation.

The figure as to maximum supply is then compared to estimated demand and if the forecast demand seems too high a Gas Balancing Alert is issued.

That happened today (for the second time ever).

The problem we face is that there are only 5 days of short term storage which is being used up each day.

When you look at national grid's prevailing view, however, it makes it clear that (even now with most of the storage still in the GBA trigger) the peak demand is 502 mcm/d, but the GBA trigger is 449.6 mcm/d. This means that we cannot cope with 50 mcm/d ie 10% of peak demand.

I have been concerned about this for a number of years. It is still uncertain whether there will be a problem that people notice this winter. It is all about risk analysis really. There is a risk that demand will be too high. Most of the time, however, it won't be. However, we have not built resiliance into our gas supply system.

Gas Balancing Alert Issued

Interestingly a GBA was issued today. Although the capacity of the network has been increased by the LNG facilities there remains the problem with storage and the direction of flow for the interconnector.

The problem is that we face some really cold weather. The system would not have coped in 2005-7. It is unclear as to whether it can cope now, but I will do some analysis over the next few days.

The gross inputs are running at just under 500 mcm/d. That includes from short term storage. Short term storage is called short term storage because it lasts only a few days. Much of this is stored liquified natural gas.

This then drives down the limit that the system can cope with.
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