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  • Understanding gas storage

  • The UK still gets more than 40% of its gas from the North Sea, as well as from other sources. gas storage – short, medium and long term – is part of our diverse range of gas supplies and provides around 10% of our gas over the winter period (October to March).

     Where does our gas come from?

     Across the year we still get 40 to 45%of our gas from the North Sea (or UK Continental Shelf – UKCS – as it’s known in the industry). We also receive shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) into three import terminals around the country, as well as Norwegian and continental gas through a series of interconnectors and pipelines.

     Some of the gas from these supply sources can be stored for use when it’s needed.

     How is gas stored?

    There are two different types of gas storage:

    •  Long range – there is one long-range storage site on the national transmission system: Rough, situated off the Yorkshire coast. Rough is owned by Centrica and mainly puts gas into storage (called ‘injection’) in the summer and takes gas out of storage in the winter.
    •  Medium range – these commercially operated sites have shorter injection/withdrawal times so can react more quickly to demand, injecting when demand or prices are lower and withdrawing when higher.
  • Gas Storage map
  • How long does storage last?

    When the long-term storage at Rough is completely full, it takes more than three months to empty because the gas can only be ‘withdrawn’ at a certain rate.  

    There are also several medium-range storage (MRS) sites, although it’s difficult to say exactly how long this storage would last because these sites ‘inject’ gas into storage in the winter too, so an MRS site may be delivering gas into the system one morning and (depending on price/conditions) refilling in the afternoon and topping itself up again.

     Why does the UK have less gas storage than other European countries?

     The strength of the UK gas supply lies in its diversity. The UK market is able to deliver gas to meet the 1 in 20 peak demand
    Other European countries rely much more heavily, or totally, on imported gas and don’t have additional capacity and diversity, so have to rely on storage to meet their high-demand periods.

     Will we need storage as North Sea gas declines?

     The strength of the UK gas supply lies in its diversity and the fact that the UK market is able to deliver gas well in excess of maximum demand. The industry needs to ensure that we have gas to replace UKCS, whether it’s more imported LNG, more interconnector capacity to get gas from the continent, or more storage. As the gas supply market is ultimately responsible for ensuring there is enough gas to meet its customer needs, the market must decide how to replace UKCS.

    Storage provision is always under evaluation in the UK. As system operator, we provide an overview of existing storage sites, those under construction and proposed future developments. You can read about these in our Gas Ten Year Statement, available at www.nationalgrid.com/uk/Gas/TYS/

    Should we worry when storage stocks get low?

    Storage stocks naturally get lower towards the end of winter and, as system operator, this is what we expect. Storage is an important but relatively small part of the overall supply mix. We receive our gas supplies from many different sources.