The UK’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has given permission for the country’s largest gas storage facility, Rough, to be reopened. Now the owner of the facility, Centrica, will start pumping fuel into it to provide the country with gas supplies for the winter.
A government source said officials expect to finalize talks with Centrica shortly and give the necessary approvals so that the company can start filling the vault in early September. The facility has not been used for gas storage since 2017, when Centrica said that Rough’s design life had come to an end and the storage could not be safely operated due to doubts about the integrity of several wells.
However, in 2022, Kwazi Kwarteng, the UK Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Industrial Strategy, asked for the facility to be put back into operation to bolster the country’s energy security. At full capacity, Rough can provide the British with gas for 10 days of the heating season – the facility holds about 3.4 billion cubic meters.
However, this fall, the vault will only be about a quarter full.
“We have been operating this facility for decades and we know it very well. After the decision to rest ppl for] storage in 2017, it continued to invest heavily. The main reason why we could reopen Rough is that we will increase its capacity in stages, before each winter. Then we will be able to do whatever work is necessary to ensure a safe increase in capacity,” explained a Centrica spokesperson.
This approach of the company was approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In addition, even if Centrica wanted to, it would not be able to fill the storage completely – this winter the company plans to produce only 800 million cubic meters of gas. However, such volumes will still significantly increase the country’s reserves – at the moment, reserves throughout the UK are only 1.6 billion cubic meters.