Brexit Could Affect UK Energy Supply
The UK has been warned that Brexit leaves the country vulnerable to gas supply shortages and price hikes. Gas exports to the UK may be significantly restricted during winter cold snaps, with supplying countries prioritising their own citizens.
The warning comes from Marco Alvera, the head of the collective European industry body GasNaturally.
More Energy Discussion Needed, says Industry Leader
Mr Alvera spoke to the BBC and said he himself had spoken to several ministers and civil servants over the last two years. “Energy has not been discussed enough,” he said, urging the Government to make energy security a priority.
“I would make it a high priority point in the discussions, and I haven’t seen it be like that,” added Mr Alvera.
It was also Mr Alvera who identified the possibility that EU nations could: “theoretically have the ability to impose tariffs on their gas and electricity exports” to a post-Brexit UK.
This is particularly worrying as the UK imports nearly half the gas it consumes from Europe. According to Government figures, 39% of the UK’s electricity supply was generated by natural gas during 2018. It is nearly half (47%) of that number that was imported through European pipelines.
This heavy reliance on imported gas will make the country particularly vulnerable to increased tariffs not protected by EU membership.
Speaking to the Business Daily programme on BBC World Service radio, Mr Alvera said: “We see one of the consequences of global warming is more extreme temperatures in the summer and in the winter. In the week when we had the Beast from the East very cold spell coming, the system was already under a lot of strain, and the UK was taking a lot of gas from Europe that was stored in Europe.”
The reliance on imported gas is partly because the UK’s own North Sea gas supplies have wound down. A lot of the UK’s gas storage infrastructural capacities have also been shut down.
Where the UK Gets Its Gas
Britain only produces 44% of its gas supply, with 9% coming from liquefied natural gas imports. That leaves the 47% share supplied by importing natural gas produced by other countries.
The two main UK suppliers are Russia and Norway, with each supplying Britain with 36% and 21% respectively. Neither of these countries are members of the EU, which should in theory safeguard against exploitative price hikes. However, there is still 43% of the imported gas that is vulnerable to EU tariff raises once Brexit is complete.
One solution proposed by Alvera is to convert the old exhausted North Sea gas fields into gas storage facilities.
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