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Britain’s Man-Made Gas Crisis

The Sunday Telegraph

The UK’s looming winter gas crisis may have been ignited by a string of fluke blows, but their outcome was far from unexpected.

For years experts have warned that the stark reversal of Britain’s energy fortunes over the last decade has left the country vulnerable to the eye-watering price shocks which have emerged this week.

In 2005 the UK was a net exporter of energy. North Sea oil production boomed, and the power system ran mainly on cheap coal. Today, the North Sea’s creaking infrastructure and dwindling North Sea supplies struggle to deliver the gas which is needed to heat homes and run the gas-power plants which are expected to generate the majority of our electricity.

Where North Sea gas once stood, is now a growing reliance on imports from Norway, Qatar and the Russian gas which flows into neighbouring markets.

The Government is quick to stress that the UK’s gas security is based on a diverse range of sources, but they do all have one thing in common: few are within Britain’s control, and all come at a cost if markets are squeezed.

Despite this growing dependence on others, the Government has turned its back on the UK’s ageing subsea storage site which now stands empty having once held enough gas to meet 40pc of the UK’s daily needs.

Gas industry supporters blame the Government’s zeal for cutting carbon emissions for distracting officials from the need to keep backing new gas storage projects, and shale gas developments, before the low-carbon investments begin to pay off.

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