Where does UK gas come from? Current supply, Europe’s contribution and if there’s a gas shortage - explained

The UK has much less gas storage than other countries across Europe

As households brace themselves for a rise in energy bills amid an industry crisis, many are wondering where the UK gets its gas supplies from.

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The amount energy suppliers have paid for gas has soared by 250% since the start of the year - and 70% in August 2021 alone - according to data from industry group Oil & Gas UK.

Prices have increased due to a combination of factors which began with a cold winter across Europe last year, when many spent more time inside than before due to Covid lockdowns.

High levels of demand coupled with lower wind and solar renewable energy outage and planned maintenance work has put pressures on supplies and seen wholesale gas prices soar.

So where does the UK get its gas supply from and is there a stock shortage ahead of the winter?

Does the UK have a gas shortage?

Compared to other countries across Europe, the UK has much less gas storage.

Figures from Gas Infrastructure Europe show that Italy, Germany, France, Netherlands, Poland and Spain all have larger gas supplies than the UK.

Italy leads the way with 166.2 TWh (terawatt hours), followed by Germany with 147.1 TWh and France with 113.7 TWh, with the UK storing 8.9 TWh.

One terawatt hour is the equivalent to an output of one trillion watts for one hour.

What has the government said about a ‘gas shortage’?

Yet business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said there is “absolutely no question of the lights going out” this winter amid escalating energy prices.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Kwarteng said Britain has a “diverse range of gas supply sources”, adding: “We have sufficient capacity, and more than sufficient capacity, to meet demand and we do not expect supply emergencies to occur this winter.

“There is absolutely no question of the lights going out or people being unable to heat their homes. There will be no three-day working weeks or a throwback to the 1970s.

“Such thinking is alarmist, unhelpful and completely misguided.”

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Where does UK gas come from?

The UK continues to produce gas but its output has been steadily decreasing over the past 20 years, with more than half of its gas now imported.

Natural gas piped from the North Sea and the East Irish Sea to refineries on land makes up 44% of the UK’s gas production.

Around 47% of the UK’s gas supply now comes from across Europe - predominantly Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, and Russia - through long distance pipelines.

While 9% of the UK’s gas is imported as liquid natural gas transported around the world in tankers at temperatures below -160C by ship, mainly from Qatar.

The UK has been hit badly by the gas shortage due to 85% of its homes using gas central heating - one of Europe’s biggest users of natural gas.

How much will my energy bills go up by? (Graphic: Mark Hall / JPIMedia)

Who are the UK’s big six energy suppliers?

A collection of well established energy companies are known as ‘the big six’.

They are the biggest energy suppliers in the UK and have been dominant in the sector for some time - but they are not adverse to change with many mergers having taken place.

Traditionally, the big six were British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, Scottish Power and SSE.

Though SSE is owned by OVO, npower is owned by E.ON and Scottish Power is owned by Iberdrola and not all the companies supplying gas to the UK are based in the UK.

Smaller companies, particularly those with an emphasis on renewable energy, have enjoyed a market share in recent years, including Bulb and Octopus.

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