Britain’s gas supplies are under pressure as a result of the cold snap but will not run out, the Government has insisted.
Energy firms and environmental groups alike have expressed concerns about the gas system and what the future holds for consumers in light of the current shortage. Gas stocks at the UK’s largest storage facility are at less than 10 per cent of capacity.
Prime Minister David Cameron is “confident” that the UK’s gas needs are being met, and will continue to be met, however.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister’s key concern is that gas supplies continue. It is absolutely clear that supplies are not running out.”
Asked if the Prime Minister was confident that this would remain the case, the spokesman replied: “Absolutely confident.”
A Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) spokeswoman said: “Gas storage would never be the sole source of gas meeting our needs, so it is misleading to talk purely about how many days’ supply is in storage.”
She said that while half of the nation’s gas needs were supplied from the North Sea, there were also pipelines from Norway and elsewhere in Europe, shipments of liquefied natural gas and storage.
“All can and are providing significant gas to meet the UK’s needs,” the spokeswoman added. “Storage levels are low at the moment – as you’d expect towards the end of winter – and the UK gas market is tight. But the market is responding as it is designed to do – gas prices are rising and supply is being maintained accordingly.”
Energy firms say that new solutions are needed, however.
Andrew Horstead, risk analyst at energy and carbon specialist Utilyx, said: “The UK is becoming increasingly reliant on imported gas and the reality is that every day that this situation is allowed to continue, we risk the potential of rising bills without having the certainty that the energy will be there for us.”
Friends of the Earth said the current situation was “a glimpse of a miserable and worrying UK energy future”. Head of campaigns Andrew Pendleton said: “Increases in the wholesale gas price are the main reason that our energy bills have rocketed in recent years – and this latest concern shows George Osborne’s judgment in backing gas to provide the bulk of our power for the next generation is seriously flawed.”