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Gas supply fears as cold snap continues

02 March 2018

National Grid has issued a warning it may not have enough gas to meet United Kingdom demand today as the cold snap continues.

By early afternoon, National Grid was forecasting daily demand of 403.5m cubic metres, more than 100m cubic metres above the average for this time of year.

The formal deficit warning, which calls on suppliers to deliver more gas to meet demand, was issued on Thursday morning.

A spokesman got the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said: " We would not expect this short-term increase in wholesale prices to feed through to household bills - energy suppliers typically buy their energy over several months to help smooth out price fluctuations, thereby insulating consumers from price volatility.

Analysts suggest National Grid may need to cut supply to some industrial and commercial firms on interruptible contracts if the imbalance continues, but will likely manage to bring in sufficient supply by the end of the day.

Dr Jenifer Baxter, head of engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, commented: "Demand for gas is now high, however domestic supplies are unlikely to be affected by this".

Meanwhile, problems with supply from the Netherlands and Norway, as well as issues at facilities in the United Kingdom, have led to the shortfall.

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Britain is at risk of running out of gas as consumers crank up the thermostat amid freezing weather.

Dr Jonathan Marshall, energy analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said: "Behind today's gas deficit warning is a "perfect storm" of unrelated short-term issues - freezing conditions, diminished Dutch gas production due to quake concerns, weather-related issues curbing imports from Europe, and a global LNG (liquified natural gas) market in which supplies are being pulled to Asia by higher prices".

The looming gas supply crisis has sent energy markets soaring, raising fears that bills may be hiked to meet the rising costs and that smaller suppliers may buckle under the pressure.

The UK is far more vulnerable to gas supply shocks since the Government agreed to let the country's main gas storage facility at Rough shut down past year.

The government has banked on "flexibility" saving the day. The gas deficit warning aims to fill that gap, which has since narrowed to 36mcm. "So do carrying on using your gas heating and cooking meals as normal". Almost half of Britain's electricity is produced by gas while 84 per cent of homes are heated with it.

"Experts have long warned about putting too many eggs in the same basket, with events such as today the undesirable outcome", he said.

In a follow up tweet, it explained that the warning is "an indication to the market that we'd like more gas to be made available to ensure the safe and reliable operation of the national gas network".

Gas supply fears as cold snap continues