Centrica has submitted an application to reopen Rough, Britain’s largest gas storage facility, as the country seeks solutions to a harsh winter ahead.
The company confirmed to Energy Voice that it is in ongoing “exploratory discussions” with the UK Government about the options for the site off the east coast of England.
That includes an application for reopening to the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA).
Centrica said it is assessing the role that Rough could play in the short to medium term as a methane storage site to support the UK’s energy independence.
Longer term, it believes the facility could play an important role in the hydrogen economy.
The NSTA website shows it has received applications for gas storage licences this month.
Earlier this month The Telegraph reported that plans were afoot to reopen the UK’s largest gas storage facility “within months”.
It’s thought plans to convert the site for hydrogen storage could cost £2bn.
The application comes as some six million households across the country reportedly face blackouts this winter, with the government drawing up plans for rationed electricity.
Restarting Rough, 18 miles off the Yorkshire coast, would allow Britain to store 10 days of supply.
Russia has been switching off supply to countries like Poland and Bulgaria, and with the winter ahead it is feared it may cut off other parts of Europe, further increasing demand and prices.
The UK Government has officially been saying that a gas shortage is unlikely, but experts have said reopening Rough could strengthen domestic supply.
Centrica shut down Rough in 2017 because it had become too expensive without that support – the site previously accounted for 70% of Britain’s natural gas storage capacity.
A key sticking point on reopening Rough is reportedly how the scheme will be paid for, with Centrica concerns that it will only be viable with state support.
Academics including Professor John Underhill of Aberdeen University have previously argued that the issue of storage “really needs to be centre stage” in the UK’s wider energy strategy.