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UK energy firm Centrica has nearly doubled the storage capacity of the largest natural gas storage site in Britain, the owner of the top energy provider British Gas said on Friday.
The storage facility Rough, which is 18 miles off the coast of East Yorkshire, stopped storing gas in 2017.
However, amid the energy and gas crisis last year, the UK and Europe found themselves scrambling to procure gas ahead of the winter.
So Centrica reopened in October its Rough natural gas storage site to boost the UK’s storage capacity by 50% ahead of the 2022/2023 winter.
At the time of reopening in October 2022, Rough was able to store around 30 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas for UK homes and businesses.
Since then, Centrica has done further engineering work and invested more in the facility, which will now be able to store up to 54 bcf of gas, boosting the UK’s energy resilience for the coming winter. This would provide the equivalent volume of gas to heat 2.4 million homes over winter, the company said.
Despite having connections with Norway and other European countries for pipeline imports, as well as three LNG import terminals, the UK still has some of the lowest levels of gas storage in Europe at 12 days average or 7.5 peak winter days, compared to Germany at 89 days, France at 103 days, and the Netherlands at 123 days, Centrica noted.
“Rough is not a silver bullet for energy security, but it plays a critical role in increasing capacity and supply confidence over the winter months,” Centrica Group Chief Executive, Chris O’Shea, said in a statement.
Centrica reiterated its long-term plan for the Rough storage site—to turn it into the world’s biggest methane and hydrogen storage facility.
The company is ready to invest $2.5 billion (£2 billion) to repurpose the Rough field, but it needs the right regulatory support framework to do so.
“This world class North Sea asset has the potential to help the UK economy return to a position of being a net exporter of energy once again,” O’Shea said.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com