Centrica doubles Rough gas storage capacity and bolsters UK energy security

Article by Amanda Jasi


AFTER reopening its Rough gas storage facility last year, Centrica has almost doubled the site’s storage, further boosting the UK’s gas storage capacity. While national capacity still falls behind that of other European countries, Centrica aims to increase Rough’s storage capabilities further.

Rough, the UK’s largest gas storage facility, is located about 29 km off the coast of East Yorkshire and stopped storing gas in 2017. When it resumed operations in October 2022 it could store about 30bn ft3 of gas for use by UK homes and businesses, increasing the UK’s storage capacity by 50% and strengthening its ability to deal with rises in demand such as during cold snaps.

Following further engineering work and investment, Rough can now store up to 54bn ft3 of gas – enough to heat 2.4m homes over the winter – boosting the nation’s winter resilience. The UK is now able to store an average of 12 days of gas, with Rough capable of up to 6 days storage. Despite the boost, other European countries continue to fare better with Germany’s average storage at 89 days, France’s at 103 days, and the Netherlands’ at 123 days.

Nevertheless, Centrica said that Rough will help keep prices down for consumers as storing surplus gas for when it is needed most will keep prices lower at the point of peak demand, thus balancing the UK market.

Chris O’Shea, chief executive of Centrica said: “The resilience of the UK’s energy system needs to be substantially improved.  We are delighted to play our part by further expanding the UK’s gas storage capacity.”

Though he noted that Rough is not a “silver bullet” for energy security, O’Shea acknowledged the site’s critical role in increasing capacity and supply confidence over the winter months. Moreover, Centrica has a long-term ambition to make the Rough gas field into the largest long duration, low carbon energy storage facility in the world, capable of storing both natural gas and hydrogen. The company says this would bolster energy security, deliver a net zero electricity system by 2035, create 5,000 skilled jobs, and decarbonise the UK’s industrial clusters by 2040.

O’Shea said that Centrica is prepared to invest £2bn (US$2.6bn) to repurpose the field into the world’s biggest methane and hydrogen gas storage facility but added that “to do this we need the right regulatory support framework. This world class North Sea asset has the potential to help the UK economy return to a position of being a net exporter of energy once again.”

Centrica sought approval to reopen Rough amidst concerns of gas shortages. While the UK does not rely on Russia for gas, Russia’s decreasing output following its invasion of Ukraine threatened to leave countries competing for alternative sources of supply.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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