It's a bit early yet to start thinking in earnest yet about the UK's gas supply for this coming winter, though if some of the concerns about melting Arctic ice causing cold European winters prove correct, we may have problems.
However, there is one little snippet of information that came out this summer from national Grid about the closing of two of the three short range gas storage sites. These facilities stored gas in liquefied form (LNG), and could rapidly reinject it into the national grid in periods of high demand. The couldn't do it for long, perhaps just a few days, but it would usually be enough to save us from serious problems.
Here's what National Grid said:
Closure of Partington and Glenmavis LNG Storage Facilities
27 June 2012
Following the LNG Storage Strategic Review in 2010, Commercial Storage Services have not been offered from our sites at Partington in Manchester and Glenmavis near Glasgow since early 2011.
Our LNG stocks were withdrawn from Partington in March 2011, following which a
decommissioning process has been undertaken and the site was formally closed on 31
March this year. A demolition contract has been awarded to Masterton Ltd who will demolish the tanks and remove all the other equipment on site over the next six to twelve months.
In the absence of any contracts to fund ongoing LNG storage services from Glenmavis, the decision has been taken to close the facility and the remaining LNG stocks were withdrawn in May. The decommissioning process has now commenced and when this has been completed the LNG storage facility will formally be closed.
These decisions do not affect the provision of services from our remaining LNG storage facility at Avonmouth near Bristol.
The net result is that back in Sep 2010 we could inject 389.8GWh of gas a day from short range storage into the grid, and now the figure is only 143GWh/day. For comparison, this is equivalent to 22mcm/day of storage supply going offline, or about 5% of peak UK winter gas demand. This wasn't a problem last winter, as it didn't get too cold. But this winter the supplies from the North Sea will be lower (as they are every year), so if it gets cold for very long, we may have problems...