U.K.’s Winter Gas Outlook Uncertain on Rough Fault, Groningen

With the peak demand season for natural gas less than three months away, National Grid Plc is struggling to ascertain how much of the fuel will be available this winter.

While adequate to meet consumption, supply in Europe’s biggest market is facing two uncertainties, the network manager said Wednesday in a report. Output cuts at Groningen, Europe’s biggest gas field in the Netherlands, and restrictions at Rough, the U.K.’s biggest storage site, are clouding the outlook ahead of the Oct. 1 start of the winter season.

“We will be monitoring these this summer,” Roisin Quinn, head of energy strategy and policy, told reporters at a briefing in London on Tuesday. The company will give a more complete assessment in its Winter Outlook Report in October, she said.

Rough’s owner Centrica Plc has since March limited the possibility for traders to store gas at the depleted field because of an issue with wells. U.K. storage sites were 56 percent filled on Monday, the lowest level for the time of the year since at least 2008, data from Gas Infrastructure Europe in Brussels, showed. To compensate, Britain may boost supplies from the North Sea, the continent, and import more fuel via tankers compared with last winter, National Grid said.

Groningen’s production will be limited to 30 billion cubic meters (1.1 trillion cubic feet) this year, 24 percent below a previous cap, Dutch Economy Minister Henk Kamp said June 23. A decision on next year’s output will be announced at the end of the year.

Rough Restriction

Rough’s total capacity is restricted by between 25 percent and 33 percent, with deliveries unaffected, National Grid said. An announcement from Centrica as to whether the restriction will be maintained during the winter is expected before October, the report said. Gas from storage supplied about 10 percent of U.K. demand last winter.

National Grid assumes a 30 percent reduction at Rough as a starting point for its winter consultation, Quinn said.

“We are always monitoring the injection and withdrawal rates and there’s still time left in summer for refilling,” Cordi O’Hara, director of market operations at National Grid, said Tuesday at the briefing. “Rough is an important asset but there are other storage assets and also LNG capacity.”

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