Britain’s biggest gas storage site switches on amid cold snap

Centrica reopened its Rough gas storage site last year (Centrica/PA)
Centrica reopened its Rough gas storage site last year (Centrica/PA)

Britain’s biggest storage site has started releasing gas into the grid to keep up with the country’s heating needs during this week’s cold snap.

British Gas owner Centrica said the Rough storage site, 18 miles off the coast of Yorkshire, will help manage demand. It is the first time it has sent gas into the grid this winter.

The Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday morning, saying parts of northern and eastern Scotland, north-east England and Yorkshire could see snow and ice.

A vast majority of UK homes are heated by burning gas.

Centrica chief executive Chris O’Shea said: “Gas storage is vital to ensure the UK can manage demand effectively, keeping prices down, and Rough contributes more than 50% of the UK’s total gas storage.”

Britain has limited gas storage sites compared with many of its European neighbours.

Centrica said the country has enough gas stored up to supply demand for 12 days, compared with Germany’s 80 days, France’s 103 and the Netherlands’ 123.

Rough was closed in 2017 as Centrica no longer saw a business case for the site.

As gas prices surged and supplies were threatened last year, Centrica brought Rough back into service.

During the summer and autumn, the company said, it has built up enough gas in Rough to heat more than three million homes over winter.

The site could supply all of Britain’s gas needs for just under two weeks if it was at full capacity.

“Customers are struggling with high energy bills, which are driven by international energy price,” Mr O’Shea said.

“I’m proud of the actions our team has taken over the last 18 months, including our decision to bring Rough back online, to underpin the UK’s energy security.

“However, we still have the lowest levels of energy storage of the world’s major economies, with the ability to store fewer than eight days of peak winter demand, and this leaves us susceptible to shocks in international markets.”