The UK has long-standing gas emergency procedures in place, including load shedding on interconnectors, but for now is maximizing export capacity available to mainland Europe, a National Grid spokesperson told S&P Global Commodity Insights June 29.
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On June 29 the Financial Times reported the UK was ready to cut gas exports to Belgium and the Netherlands in the event of a gas supply emergency, defined as a loss of pressure to consumers.
"The UK is like other European countries in having gas emergency protocols which aim to protect household consumers – these protective measures cover household consumers on the island of Ireland as well as those in the UK," the spokesperson said.
The procedures, first published in 1997 and last updated in May 2021, list actions that can be taken in a supply emergency, from use of storage gas and the easing of gas specification rules through to load shedding on interconnectors or via interruptible supply contracts (see chart).
A final resort ahead of actual supply cuts would be public appeals to domestic and small commercial consumers to use "as little gas as possible", or indeed "to stop using gas", the procedures document shows.
For now, however, the UK market had a role in supporting European storage as far as possible, the National Grid spokesperson said.
"[System operator] Gas Transmission has been going well beyond its obligations in maximizing the export capacity we make available to mainland Europe through the interconnectors, typically exporting 75 million cubic meters per day over the past few weeks since the war in Ukraine started – compared to our obligated capacity of 60 million cu m/day," they said.
Volumes exported regularly represent over a quarter of gas demand on the national transmission system, they said.
Meanwhile the summer refill period could further increase demand on UK gas interconnectors to help refill EU storage.
"If we keep exporting at the current rate until September, Britain's contribution will be equivalent to 15% of European long-term storage," the spokesperson said.
EU storage sites were 57% full as of June 27, according to data from Gas Infrastructure Europe, with stocks totaling 636 TWh (60 Bcm).
"Falling pipeline supply now remains the key downside risk to Summer-22 storage stock build, with EU mandated targets at risk if further supply disruptions occur," Platts Analytics said.
Under new EU storage rules, member states are required to fill their storage sites to 80% of capacity by Nov. 1, 2022, and to 90% of capacity by Nov. 1 in subsequent years.
Concerns about filling storage sites this summer contributed to record-high prices across Europe in recent months.
The TTF month-ahead price reached a record Eur212.15/MWh on March 8, according to Platts price assessments by S&P Global Commodity Insights.
It was last assessed on June 28 at Eur129.90/MWh, up 57% since the start of the month and 300% higher year on year, according to S&P Global data.
UK gas prices have been much lower than their counterparts on the continent in recent months. The NBP month-ahead price was last assessed on June 28 at Eur68.37/MWh.