Conservative party leadership candidate, Liz Truss, is facing questions on her involvement in the closure of the Rough gas storage facility off the coast of East Yorkshire.
Closed in 2017, Centrica Energy at the time cited safety issues at the plant as the reason for its closure, however, the opposition is pointing out that this report came nine days after Ms Truss started as Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
Truss’ supporters deny she had any involvement in the plant’s closure and Centrica at the time said the closure was “not a decision for ministers”.
The conservative party leadership candidate made an appearance in Aberdeen this week alongside party rival Rishi Sunak in which the future of Scotland’s energy sector was discussed.
The facility, set to reopen in the coming weeks is said to hold enough gas to meet the UK’s winter energy demand for 10 days.
Yesterday shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband told the Mirror: “We are facing an energy crisis because of 12 years of Conservative failure on energy security – on renewables, on storage, on insulation and on regulating the market.
“Liz Truss needs to urgently explain what her involvement was in shutting down the Rough gas storage facility and plummeting the UK into close to zero storage stocks.
“The decision shows a blatant disregard from this government to protect our energy supply and keep bills down.”
In response, a spokeswoman from Ms Truss’ campaign said: “As Prime Minister, Liz would drive forward efforts to secure the UK’s long-term domestic energy supply and keep families’ bills low.
“She would reduce the UK’s dependency on foreign energy supplies and leverage private sector investment to embrace transition energy methods like gas and nuclear.”
Labour hit back with: “All other European countries have been filling their storage over the summer to prepare for the critical winter to come, but Tory decisions over the last 12 years have left us insecure and families exposed to higher bills.”
However, in October 2017, Dan Monzani, then director for energy security at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said it was Centrica’s decision to shut the plant.
Mr Monzani further stated: “We did assess the impacts, as we do on a regular basis. Of course, the decision to close Rough was not a decision for Ministers; it was a decision for Centrica, and you heard that this morning.
“We note that Centrica, at the time of its decision, had been testing the facility and had found a number of significant failures there.”
Adding: “Centrica concluded that it could not safely return the assets and the facility to injection storage operations, so the facility, as you have heard, was beyond its design life; it was failing consistently; its reliability had fallen.
“The decision was actually for the Oil and Gas Authority about whether to change the licence to allow production rather than storage and injection, which, based on the evidence about its reliability, is what it did.”
The latest on Centrica’s Rough
Centrica announced earlier this week that it aims to reopen the Rough gas storage plant, stating that it will start willing up the plant in “little more than a fortnight”.
The company has been given the go-ahead from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for natural gas to be pumped into the Centrica Rough site.
Centrica said it will reopen rough in stages, following concerns previously about the facility having reached the end of its design life.
The UK Government has officially been saying that a gas shortage is unlikely, but experts have said reopening Rough could strengthen domestic supply.