National Grid asks for emergency permission to pump more gas to Europe to fill its storage facilities as Britain faces chilly winter with Putin threatening to turn off the taps
- National Grid requests urgent increases to the Norfolk-Balgzang gas pipeline
- Britain has already sent record levels of natural gas to Europe in recent months
- It comes as Shell’s boss warned that energy may need to be rationed in the UK
National Grid has requested emergency permission to pump more gas to the stricken continent as Europe races to fill up stocks ahead of a difficult winter.
Wracked by a full-blown energy crisis, fuelled by Vladimir Putin‘s war in Ukraine raging on and skyrocketing bills, operators have ramped up the capacity of British and Dutch pipelines as Europe braces for the cold months ahead.
National Grid has requested urgent increases on the 150mile Norfolk to Balgzand supply, with plans underway to export more than a third of usual levels.
European demand for gas has contributed to the UK’s gas exports increasing 185 per cent from 2020 to 2021, reaching record levels of exports in April 2022.
Britain exports supplies to Europe during the summer months before turning into a major importer during winter, but it has already sent out record amounts of gas in recent months to help shore up European supplies.
‘Enhanced resilience of supplies across Europe heading into the forthcoming winter can benefit the GB market by reducing likely demand for exports to Europe over the expected period of high demand from October 2022 as we move into the winter,’ a spokesperson for the Grid said.
The news comes after the chief executive of energy giant Shell warned energy could be rationed in the UK if the Kremlin rails against sanctions by cutting supplies.
National Grid has requested emergency permission to pump more gas to the continent as European nations race to fill up stocks ahead of a difficult winter
While the UK receives less than 4% of its total gas supply from Russia, it remains vulnerable to causal events stemming from Europe.
Doomsday scenarios include energy rationing in both Britain and on the continent, a suggestion shared by Shell boss Ben van Beurden as he predicts a ‘tough winter’.
Regulator Ofgem has already hiked its energy price cap this year and is on course to do so again in October.
Elsewhere, French president Emmanuel Macron has warned citizens to prepare for street lights to be switched off to save energy if Russia turns off its gas taps.
The European Commission this week set out emergency strategies allowing countries to counter the threat imposed by Russia cutting off supply, as it urged nations to plan for voluntary cuts in gas usage until March.
A host of European countries are still dependent on Moscow for most of their gas and oil supplies (pictured, a plant in Tartarstan, Russia). Russian gas accounts for some 40 per cent of Europe’s total gas consumption
European gas storage levels remain significantly higher than this time last year (around 63%), but are still below their five year average. They are aiming to fill 80 per cent of their storage capacity by November 1.
Fears that Putin could turn off the taps were also exacerbated when supplies from Russia to Germany dried up earlier this month.
On July 10 the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline from Russia to western Europe was closed for maintenance for ten days, with supplies resuming but down 40pc.
The knock-on effect of this caused energy giant Uniper to fail, prompting Olaf Scholz’s German government to rescue it with a £13bn bailout on Friday.
Crippled by high prices, dwindling supplies and left vulnerable as a Europe’s main exporter of Kremlin-backed Gazprom gas, Uniper requested a bailout weeks ago.
Germans were earlier warned their monthly gas bills will triple next year due to the impact of the war in Ukraine.