After Brexit, there could be shortage in supply of gas to the UK along with a potential rise in prices, warned an industry leader of the nation.
In the eventuality of EU nations prioritizing their own countries during winter cold periods, there can be a shortage of gas supply to the UK, said Marco Alvera, head of European industry body GasNaturally, during a television interview to the BBC.
“We’ve spoken to several ministers and civil servants over the last two years. Energy has not been discussed enough,” Alvera said.
Almost half of te gas consumed by the UK is imported by it from Europe through pipelines. According to official government statistics, last year, about 39 per cent of the electricity supply of the country was generated from natural gas.
“I would make [energy security] a high priority point in the discussions, and I haven’t seen it be like that,” said Alvera. He also heads the Italian gas pipeline company Snam that is the owner of a minority stake in one of the two main UK-Europe gas pipelines.
In a post Brexit scenario, the ability to impose tariffs on their gas and electricity exports would theoretically available to EU countries, he added.
Alvera also warned that there is critical dependency of the UK on imported natural gas for meeting its power demand sin the winter months. This was because of the winding down of the North Sea gas that is owned by the UK, he said and added that at same time, a large portion of its gas storage infrastructural capacity had also been shut down by the country.
“We see one of the consequences of global warming is more extreme temperatures in the summer and in the winter,” he said.
“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,” he added.
He however also said that the situation can relatively easily be reversed by the UK through the conversion of the old exhausted North Sea gas fields into gas storage facilities.
Gas from Russia makes up much of the UK’s gas imports which are sent through pipes Europe, Alvera also claimed. But since the Novichok poisonings in Salisbury in March last year, the extent of UK reliance on Russian gas has been a source of controversy.
In 2017, the House of Lords had published a report which stated that the UK could be “more vulnerable to supply shortages in the event of extreme weather or unplanned generation outages”. That was very similar to the warnings issued by Alvera.
UK would be at risk after its exit of the EU and consequently out of the Internal Energy Market of the block. It is expected that it would happen at the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020 according to the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement that have been negotiated with the EU. If there is no deal with the EU over Brexit, the UK could immediately be at risk of shortage of a supply of gas.
Norway, which is part of the Internal Energy Market, although it is not an EU member, is the country through which most of the natural gas imports come to the UK.
(Adapted from BBC.com)