UK energy firm Centrica reopened its Rough natural gas storage site on Friday — which was closed five years ago — to boost storage capacity by 50% for this winter.
After completing engineering upgrades over the summer and commissioning over the early autumn, Centrica announced today the reopening of the Rough gas storage facility off the east coast of England in the Southern North Sea.
Rough was closed in 2017 when the UK had enough gas supply from the North Sea, Norway, and northwestern Europe, and was betting on receiving LNG supply.
But with the energy and gas shortages this year, without Russian gas—or at least without most of it—the UK and Europe found themselves scrambling to procure gas ahead of the winter. Energy shortages could lead to blackouts in the UK this winter if it’s very cold, the national grid operator has warned.
So, Centrica has applied to have the Rough storage site reopened and received the required approvals to do so in August when the regulator, the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), granted the necessary approvals and consents to Centrica Offshore UK Limited (COUK) for Phase 1 of the Rough gas storage site.
Centrica said today that it had made its first injection of gas into the site in over five years, and is in a position to store up to 30 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas for UK homes and businesses over the coming winter, boosting the UK’s energy resilience.
Rough will be operating at around 20% of its previous capacity this winter, Centrica said, but this immediately makes it the UK’s largest gas storage site once again and adds 50% to the UK’s gas storage volume.
“In the short term we think Rough can help our energy system by storing natural gas when there is a surplus and producing this gas when the country needs it during cold snaps and peak demand. Rough is not a silver bullet for energy security, but it is a key part of a range of steps which can be taken to help the UK this winter,” Centrica Group Chief Executive, Chris O’Shea, said.
“Our long-term aim remains to turn the Rough field into the world’s biggest methane and hydrogen storage facility,” O’Shea added.
By Michael Kern for Oilprice.com
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Michael Kern is a newswriter and editor at Safehaven.com and Oilprice.com,