British Gas owner extends storage to ‘keep energy prices down’

British Gas owner Centrica expands storage facility, claiming it will help ‘keep energy prices low’ and make UK a net exporter of energy

  • Rough terrain off the East Yorkshire coast currently provides half of the UK’s storage
  • Centrica has been criticized for profiting heavily from high energy prices

Centrica has expanded its gas storage capacity at a site on the East Yorkshire coast as the British gas owner prepares for this year’s winter.

The Rough site, which is 18 miles off the county’s coast and currently provides half of all UK gas storage, was closed in 2017 and reopened in October last year.

The group plans to invest £2bn to make Rough the largest methane and hydrogen storage facility in the world, which it says will ‘keep prices down for consumers’ and could help Britain become ‘a net exporter again’ of energy’.

Expansion: The Rough storage facility is located off the East Yorkshire coast

Centrica was criticized for benefiting heavily from high energy prices at a time when many Britons struggle with bills.

Sites like Rough store natural gas when there is a surplus and then supply it when the country needs it during cold spells and peak demand.

Rough’s capacity has now grown from 30 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas to 54 bcf as part of the plans, equivalent to the volume of gas needed to heat 2.4 million homes during the winter, Centrica said.

Britain currently has one of the lowest levels of gas storage in Europe with an average of 12 days or 7.5 peak days in winter, compared to Germany at 89 days, France at 103 days and the Netherlands at 123 days.

The extra capacity means Rough can store up to 6 days of average UK gas consumption, Centrica said.

Centrica boss Chris O’Shea said the £2bn investment will bolster Britain’s energy security, deliver a ‘net zero electricity system by 2035’, create 5,000 skilled jobs and boost the country’s industrial clusters by 2040 will decarbonise.

He added: ‘This world-class North Sea asset has the potential to help the UK economy move back to a position of net exporter of energy.

The resilience of the UK energy system needs to be substantially improved. We are pleased to play our part in further expanding the UK’s gas storage capacity.

“Rough is not a panacea for energy security, but it plays a vital role in increasing capacity and supply confidence during the winter months.

“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.”