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expert reaction to UK gas supply and CO2 shortage

The UK is currently experiencing a substantial rise in gas prices and a shortage of C02 gas. 


Prof Jon Gluyas, Executive Director of the Durham Energy Institute, said:

On gas supply:

“The current concerns over supply of natural gas in the UK is a growing problem that has been ignored for at least a decade since the UK ceased to produce sufficient gas from UK offshore gas fields in about 2004.  We have very little gas storage capacity and that has reduced in recent years with the shut down of the offshore Rough storage site.  The quantities vary but we get the gas we need from UK fields (about 40%), through a single pipeline from Norway (about 40%), 15% as LNG (mostly from Qatar) and the 5% balance via the Interconnector from Europe at a time when European gas supply is increasingly controlled by Russia.  In the absence of significant storage, we may on a cold winter’s day have only a 1% margin of supply over demand.  It would not take much of a dip in supply from Europe to cause a shortage.  Increasing supply from our own fields is rarely easy as they reach end of life and there is little limited flexibility in supply from Norway.  We could buy more LNG but the response time is slow because it is shipped in.

Whilst we need to solve the immediate problems of gas supply it will only be a sticking plaster on a big wound – that of profligate use of our own gas in decades past with the so called ‘dash for gas’.  Nonetheless the current crisis gives us a fantastic opportunity to develop ultra-low carbon, sustainable heating sources such as the use of mine water heat as being pioneered in NE England.”

On CO2 shortages:

“The news that a shortage of carbon dioxide is causing acute problems to the pig and poultry slaughtering, food processing and packaging industries is superficially bizarre as we race towards COP26, the Conference of the Parties in Glasgow in November when nations will again debate how to cut global emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases – the agents of climate change.  The UK currently emits around 350 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, paltry when compared with global emissions of around 36 billion tonnes.  Nonetheless we have run short of what can be called food grade carbon dioxide, commonly a biproduct of fertiliser production.  Leaving aside the point that the food processing industry could use other source of cheap, relatively inert compressed gas in their processes (such as nitrogen) we can also ensure there are other sources of food grade carbon dioxide.

“The UK’s gas fired power stations emit about 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide for every GWh or electricity generated.  For a 1 GW (medium sized) power station that equates to a little over 4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide produced annually.  Such power plants do not produce food grade carbon dioxide but adapting them to do so is not a significant challenge and would provide capacity to meet pinch points in the market like that we are currently experiencing.  Moreover, the surplus of captured CO2 could then be stored, safe, deep beneath the North Sea, rather than released to the atmosphere – a bonus offering towards what COP26 is trying to achieve.”



Declared interests

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