Factories’ Gas Cut Off As Demand Soars

(Telegraph) – FACTORIES AND POWER STATIONS have started to have their gas turned off as Britain begins to run out amid the prolonged Arctic weather conditions.

The National Grid has withdrawn supplies to 94 “very large” gas customers across England, 55 in the East Midlands and 39 in the North West.

It is the first time in 11 years that gas supplies have been cut, and came as gas demand was expected to reach a record high of 454 million cubic metres on Thursday.

All the customers, which the National Grid said include “steelworks, power stations and very large factories”, are on what are known as interruptible contracts.

This means that in return for discounted gas they accept that their supplies can be temporarily cut off during periods of high demand.

A National Grid spokesman said the last time interruptible contracts were invoked was 1999.

She said many customers on interruptible contracts had backup generators, but those without them would have to shut down.

They also had the option of continuing their supply if they paid a financial penalty.

The National Grid asked gas suppliers to cut the 94 customers off on Tuesday and the disconnection will last until demand falls.

With little sign of any change in the weather soon, reconnection could be weeks away.

Maintaining domestic gas supplies was a “top priority”, the spokesman stressed.

Earlier this week the Conservatives claimed that Britain had only eight days’ gas supplies left, based on current usage.

And on Thursday the National Grid issued its second gas alert in four days amid freezing temperatures nationwide.

Britain has poor gas storage capacity: only 15 days’ worth when full, compared to more than four times that in France and Germany.

While imports will plug the gap, they are more expensive and analysts have warned they could lead to higher bills.

Already the average annual energy bill stands at £1,239 according to uswitch.com, a price comparison site.

David Hunter, of McKinnon and Clarke, an energy consultancy, has said the “uncomfortably tight” gas situation “might give the energy companies the excuse they need to increase prices.”

Frozen Britain May Run Short Of Gas

(Telegraph) – THE FREEZING WEATHER has raised fears that Britain could run short of gas after the National Grid issued only its second warning in 30 years over surging consumption.

Demand for gas – the fuel used to heat about two thirds of Britain’s homes – has risen to about 30 per cent above seasonal norms with Britain in the grip of one of its coldest winters for 100 years.

While it is unlikely that households will find their supplies restricted, a shortage could lead to higher bills.

The National Grid, responsible for meeting the country’s energy requirements issued a gas balancing alert yesterday to give warning that any further falls in supply could force big users like power plants to cut their consumption.

Extra gas supplies were rushed out to the liquefied natural gas importation terminal in Kent through pipelines in Belgium and Norway following the alert.

The National Grid said the risk of shortages had been temporarily averted by the influx. “Supplies of gas to the UK have increased following the issuing of a gas balancing alert today,” a spokesman said.

Unusually cold weather is set to continue over the next two weeks, and the National Grid has not ruled out sending out further supply warnings.

In the event of a serious shortage, big industrial consumers are expected to bear the brunt of gas consumption cuts to shield residential users who rely on the fuel to keep warm.