Centrica (LON: CNA) has announced it has nearly doubled gas storage capacity at the Rough field in the UK North Sea.
The site, 18 miles off the coast of East Yorkshire, is Britain’s largest gas storage facility having re-opened in October 2022.
It accounts for half of the UK’s storage.
At time of reopening, Rough was able to store 30 billion cubic feet (bcf), but Centrica said further investment means, this winter, it will be able to store up to 54 bcf.
That equates to enough gas for 2.4 million homes – and means an additional six days of average UK gas use.
Centrica conceded this is “not a silver bullet for energy security” but should help reduce prices when gas is needed most.
The firm highlighted that the UK remains on the low end of the storage spectrum compared to European neighbours.
The UK has 12 days average – or 7.5 peak winter days – of storage, compared to Germany’s 89, France’s 103 in France and the Netherlands’ 123 days of storage.
Centrica said Rough “will help keep prices down for consumers” through balancing the UK gas market, injecting gas into the facility when there is excess supply and putting it back into the UK network when it is most needed.
This should keep prices lower at peak demand.
Alongside Rough, the UK’s gas supply is diversified through domestic production, connections with Norway and other European countries and three LNG import terminals.
Centrica CEO Chris O’Shea said: “The resilience of the UK’s energy system needs to be substantially improved. We are delighted to play our part by further expanding the UK’s gas storage capacity. Rough is not a silver bullet for energy security, but it plays a critical role in increasing capacity and supply confidence over the winter months.
“Rough can help our energy system by storing natural gas when there is a surplus and producing this gas when the country needs it during cold snaps and peak demand.”
£2bn plan for world’s largest low-carbon energy storage facility
London-listed Centrica has ambitions to convert Rough into the “largest long duration low-carbon energy storage facility in the world,” accommodating natural gas and hydrogen.
The firm said it “stands ready to invest £2 billion” for this” but needs the right regulatory support framework”.
It said this conversion could deliver net zero electricity by 2035, create 5,000 skilled jobs and decarbonise UK industrial clusters by 2040.
Mr O’ Shea added: “This world class North Sea asset has the potential to help the UK economy return to a position of being a net exporter of energy once again.”
Earlier this week, energy services firm Wood announced work to study the potential for hydrogen production at Easington for storage at Rough.
Centrica has previously estimated Rough could run for 40 more years through fresh investment.