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« Spamvertising - Josh 207 | Main | To hell with the environment - give us biofuels »

UK's "fuel low" indicator just came on

Bloomberg has just reported that the UK's low fuel indicator just switched on:

U.K. stores of natural gas, pushed to record lows by a dearth of tanker imports, will be exhausted in about two weeks unless temperatures rise, reducing demand for the heating fuel.

The CHART OF THE DAY shows inventories at Rough, the U.K.’s largest gas-storage facility, are at the lowest level on record for the time of year. There were 6,490 gigawatt-hours of gas in storage yesterday, which will be depleted in 15 days if the average rate of withdrawal over the past two weeks continues, according to National Grid Plc (NG/) data.

See the chart here.

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Reader Comments (87)

I can see an inverse correlation in the graph between UK gas levels and arctic ice extent. I'm writing a paper, which of course I will submit to Heat Magazine. I don't need to archive methods and data, do I?

Mar 6, 2013 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

If only Al Gore could be cloned and placed in every British home. All that hot air would keep people warm for millions of years.

Mar 6, 2013 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil

Does "Reality Drop" have a rebuttal to this yet?

Will the gore-bots still be posting whilst freezing to death?

Mar 6, 2013 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterKatabasis

And next week is back to cold only this time it will be windy too (so heating on even higher).

Mar 6, 2013 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Thank goodness it was 17C in London yesterday.

Mar 6, 2013 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

Is that the same gas that is used to backup wind?

Mar 6, 2013 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

If the dice fall the wrong way this could lead to a perfect storm. The CCGTs spin up every day to about 20GW in order to meet peak demand at about 18.30, and if they can't do that, and we get another cold snap, and we switch off coal fired generators to meet EU directives - the lights will go out.

This, in my opinion, would finish Cameron and Clegg just as surely as the ERM fiasco finished Major.

Mar 6, 2013 at 11:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

Does "Reality Drop" have a rebuttal to this yet?

Will the gore-bots still be posting whilst freezing to death?
Mar 6, 2013 at 11:21 AM | Katabasis

Myth #105 might be a good one to drop after any article about the lack of power. Assuming it's possible one the power is off. Make sure you attribute it to Al's website though.

“Is it too hard to go to the moon, eradicate smallpox or end apartheid? Is it too hard to build a computer that fits in your pocket? No? Then it's not too hard to build a clean energy future, either.”

or MYTH #103

All day and all night, rain or shine, renewable energy is a reliable way to keep the lights on in the 21st century.

Mar 6, 2013 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

15 days looks about right, but how much is used to generate electricity and how much goes for home heating etc? How much comes from the North Sea and other locations?

Mar 6, 2013 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

" a dearth of tanker imports,"

Why are we importing less LNG?

Mar 6, 2013 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Shame the Bloomberg article didn't mention that renewables have failed to provide the energy security that we were promised. A mention of the shale gas alternative would have been nice too..

Mar 6, 2013 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

" a dearth of tanker imports,"

Why are we importing less LNG?
Mar 6, 2013 at 11:57 AM Entropic man

Perhaps you have to book it months before and they ordered less than we've used? Maybe other countries who are higher up the pecking order are getting supplies because they too have had a colder winter than normal? Maybe there are green protesters blockading the port? Maybe a ship or two is stuck in ice somewhere?

That's why we need a mix of reliable energy supplies, not just gas. Though I'm sure the wind power will save the day /sarc.

Mar 6, 2013 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Some of us did predict the Brits would freeze while they basked in the Glow of the Greens. Maybe waiting for the ground to thaw before burying the frozen dead might awaken them to reality.

Mar 6, 2013 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered Commentercedarhill

Don't worry, we have windmills.

Mar 6, 2013 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

The reason storage is so depleted is that the weather has been so (relatively) cold for so (relatively) long. This has given few opportunities to replenish stored gas.

The National Grid "Composite Weather Variable" graphs at the bottom of the page clearly illustrate the situation.

UK demand since w/c 10th Jan has, apart from a brief period around 31st Jan, depended upon depletion of storage at the expense of its replenishment.

This has been exacerbated by the fact that that scenario persisted for much of last autumn.

[LDZ = Local Distribution Zone; NTS = National Transmission System.]

Considering the previous post was "To hell with the environment - give us biofuels", perhaps Britains farmers could help out for the remains of this winter?

Mar 6, 2013 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Public

This is why we're short of gas. Our main LNG supplier, Quatar, is sending its LNG to Japan, where prices and demand for gas are high after Fukishima. There's also a shortage of LNG carriers.

Mar 6, 2013 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

@ cedarhill

Some of us did predict the Brits would freeze while they basked in the Glow of the Greens.

I think that setting fire to the Greens would be a little bit cruel, but it would enable us to keep warm while basking in their glow!

Mar 6, 2013 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy


If only we had a new domestic source of natural gas...

Mar 6, 2013 at 12:18 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Time to start fracking methinks.

Mar 6, 2013 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

Let's just hope that FCUK-UP-UK becomes FRAC-UP-UK!

Mar 6, 2013 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

Bishop Hill

I have made several posts here in recent days documenting doubts about the economics of UK shale gas.

Many of your posters have an almost credulous faith that it will pull them out of the forthcoming energy supply incident pit. I am less convinced.

Mar 6, 2013 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

@Entropic - why not let the private enterprises that want to try go ahead and then we can find out ?

Mar 6, 2013 at 12:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

The companies want to get drilling, but they complain of the bureaucracy invloved.

I suspect that if the gas is there, it will be huge. The shales themselves are up to 10 times thicker than the US version.

But, only drilling, fracturing and producing, will tell if its worthwhile.

Mar 6, 2013 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterLes Johnson

A 15-day forecast sounds up Piers Corbyn's street. I seem to remember his saying it wasn't going to warm up soon...

Mar 6, 2013 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

It's obvious this weather is due to far to much man made carbon. We just got it a little wrong. Instead of global warming we are seeing the start of the man made Ice age. A principle cause of which is particles of dust in the higher atmosphere released from coal burning plants. Keep the faith!

Mar 6, 2013 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterAl Gorebot

Roger Longstaff on Mar 6, 2013 at 11:38 AM
"If the dice fall the wrong way this could lead to a perfect storm. .... This, in my opinion, would finish Cameron and Clegg just as surely as the ERM fiasco finished Major."

It ought to finish of Ed M. as well, as the Minister who initiated and supported the 2008 CCA and, whilst Secretary of State, attended the UK premiere of The Age of Stupid.

Irony indeed!

Mar 6, 2013 at 1:09 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

To be fair to Entropic Man (!) he's never as I recall actually opposed fracking. I just wish he wouldn't be so bloody pessimistic all the time. We probably had the same arguments against fire and the wheel several thousand years ago and against electricity in 1880 or powered flight 20 years later.
If the UK needs gas and the gas is there then Cuadrilla (or whoever) will get it out and if we need it we'll pay for it.
The reason why there is a problem is that Davey and his civil servants and the Beeb and their greenie hangers-on know full well that if shale is half as plentiful and half as easy to get at as it is in the US then the white elephants that are windmills will be very rapidly be shown to be the total waste of time, energy, money, and space that all these people in the depths of the little hearts (all except the totally brainless ones) know that they are.
Come the day!!

Mar 6, 2013 at 1:11 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Les Johnson on Mar 6, 2013 at 1:00 PM
"But, only drilling, fracturing and producing, will tell if its worthwhile."

The most it can do is keep us warm and, perhaps, with lower fuel bills, help industry, and jobs etc.

It won't 'Save the world'! :)

Mar 6, 2013 at 1:13 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

No doubt the call will go out that we should all pull-together. Sound-heads v Cavaliers would be the likely response.

Mar 6, 2013 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

This is madness! Places like Nigeria are slashing their gas prices because they cannot find customers in the US. Yet British Gas can still feed customers the myth of gas shortages and high prices. The only shortage is artificially created to manipulate the market.

Mar 6, 2013 at 1:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith

Fracking hell!

The USA thanks to fracking is burning less coal consequently the reduction in the demand for coal is making it relatively 'cheap' on the world commodity markets.
Energy companies, with an eye of maximising profit margins and although almost always quoting spot prices for gas [same old misdirection] have stolen a march, by using coal to produce Britain's electricity this winter.
Additionally the 'thinking' goes, with, most of Britain's coal fired plant is to be closed [thanks to the EU diktat] so it does no harm eh? It is a complicated calculation based on hours the EU allows us to burn coal - which are fast dwindling.

Liquified gas, is going to other countries [as has been pointed out], in the end unless we tell the EU to get stuffed to their LCP diktat we're knackered - we [know it] are close to the blackout threat right now:

"This is due to the LPCD, which is designed to reduce the amount of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and dust emitted from large conventional power stations. Existing plants had the choice to either comply with the new targets by installing new technology to remove emissions or remain open for a limited period only. In the UK, 11GW of capacity opted out of the Directive and will consequently have to close in 2015 - and some will close sooner. In fact, Ofgem notes that, "power stations 'opted out' under the LCPD are using up their running hours faster than expected" and that "most LCPD opted out plant will come off the system well before the 2015 deadline."

Burning trees, importing them from North America [how the Canucks must guffaw at us here in the UK] is not the answer either [more green lunacy of a special kind] - God what a blumin' mess.

Mar 6, 2013 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Guess what is coming along next week?
From the BBC Weather website
Monday 11 March—Sunday 17 March

After a reasonably mild start, it looks like temperatures will fall away, dropping back well down into single figures by day again, as winds gradually back more northeasterly. There will also be an increasing risk of overnight frost and ice as the increasingly cold air sets in.

Mar 6, 2013 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

And what would happen if we just stuck up 2 fingers at the EU and kept the coal generators going, citing "Overiding National Interest" (we don't want to freeze to death)?

Much wailing and gnashing of greenie and bureaucratic teeth, but not much else.
Fines? Tell them where to go.

What is there not to like?

Mar 6, 2013 at 1:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Reality of Dropping temperatures. Bot-tastic.

Mar 6, 2013 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

Don because there would inevitably be remarks from Dominic Grieve, Kenneth Clark & all the usual suspects, that the body that makes the Law can't be seen to break the Law. Which is a reasonable point. Except they no longer make the Law, they merely rubber stamp European law. But I suppose these not-very-patriotic sophists would argue that as we are represented at (forsooth, at the heart of) Europe's law-making bodies, then Parliament is part of the European law making process.

Mar 6, 2013 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterbill

But the Greens *want* the lights to go out. This will force people to look more-seriously at the alternative of less consumption. Unfortunately modern society doesn't like being bullied by righteous little pr1cks and so a rather severe backlash is likely. And we know where they live too!

Mar 6, 2013 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

Wouldn't it be hilarious if the reserve levels are based on a theoretical model of gas demand, which is itself based on advice from the Met Office on long-term warming? (You'll be lucky to see snow again)

Mar 6, 2013 at 2:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith

Article 7 of the Large Combustion Plant Directive allows for exceptions to the emissions limits in order to maintain energy supplies. See page 6 of this pdf copy.

Mar 6, 2013 at 2:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

Don and Bill

I had an interesting exchange with John Redwood last Sunday - see comments here - - you will see that JR thinks some of the very sensible ideas set out in UKIP's energy policy are illegal - if you are interested their energy policy can be found here -

as you say Don 'whats not to like!'

Mar 6, 2013 at 2:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterNTropywins

"because there would inevitably be remarks from Dominic Grieve, Kenneth Clark & all the usual suspects"

So what?

The time is fast approaching to take "direct action".
I would prefer this to be at Governmental level, but knowing this bunch of idiots- not to mention the opposition, makes this an unlikely prospect.

Mar 6, 2013 at 2:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

@Entropic - why not let the private enterprises that want to try go ahead and then we can find out ?

Mar 6, 2013 at 12:41 PM | Morph

I'm quite happy to let Cuadrilla go ahead, but have not yet demonstrated that they can produce shale gas in the UK at an economic price. Until they do all this enthusiasm is premature.

I recall a committee on which one member was a pessimist like myself. He was accused of pouring cold water on everything.
The reply: " Cold water always results when a lot of hot air gets on thin ice." :-)

Mar 6, 2013 at 3:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

National Grid says "don't panic"

I feel better already.... </sarc>

Mar 6, 2013 at 3:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterKatabasis

Every time you fracture Shale little bird somewhere stops singing.


Mar 6, 2013 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered Commenter3x2

EM: "Until they do all this enthusiasm is premature."

Only if you are really really stupid or really really dishonest.

On the terminally idiotic/dishonest can ignore the success of fracking in the USA and Canada.

Mar 6, 2013 at 4:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce


Before you get too enthusiatic about the success of US shale gas, you should read this.

If you are short of time, at least read the concluding section 2.6 on page 23.

Mar 6, 2013 at 5:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

You lot do love to get your knickers in a twist. Its only a record low for this particular day; in 2011 it went much lower in mid-March

And though Rough is the largest, there are others. Here's the data for 6 March from NG showing the opening stock at each location.

Rough 5906
Isle Of Grain 3081
South Hook 1784
Dragon 1072
Humbly Grove 1019
Hornsea 530
Aldbrough 301
Avonmouth 155
Holehouse Farm 120
Holford 119

Total 14087 GWh

So there is over twice as much available as the article stated. Armageddon will be delayed...

Mar 6, 2013 at 5:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Entropic Man:

>>If you are short of time, at least read the concluding section 2.6 on page 23.

Why not direct readers instead to the actual conclusions of the thesis in section 6 starting on page 101?

Rather than being discouraging, the report is actually an encouraging one.

As the abstract states, "Despite the adverse conditions facing the shale gas
industry it is concluded from the results of this analysis that a shale gas well in the
Marcellus Shale is profitable based on NPV, IRR and breakeven price calculations."

Mar 6, 2013 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterfortunatecookie

Before long, people just won't know what gas is...

Mar 6, 2013 at 5:59 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

“Is it too hard to go to the moon, eradicate smallpox or end apartheid? Is it too hard to build a computer that fits in your pocket? No? Then it's not too hard to build a clean energy future, either.”

For a man of Al Gore's calibre that's not difficult. Remember, he did those first four things without fossil-fuel, and before he invented the internet.

Mar 6, 2013 at 6:02 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

@Athelstan at 1.23 p.m. I've lived in Canada for 30 years and I'm not laughing. My home is in Ontario, and the Liberal provincial government is pushing wind power; there is an agreement with Siemens to build wind farms, mostly in SW Ontario, and I believe the details of this have not been made public. This was done under Dalton (no more taxes) McGuinty who promptly slapped an extra health tax on everybody in ON. Four or so of his MP's in constituencies where wind farms were established, were not re-elected for that reason, but they still have a majority of 1 or 2 in the legislature. He has been replaced as provincial PM, but I don't know if the policy will change. As long as Stephen Harper is in power, I believe things wil be OK, but the last but one (?) Federal Liberal leader, Stephane Dion, favoured a carbon tax, and I don't think the policy has changed. Bob Rae was an interim leader of the Federal Liberals, after being a distastrous NDP provincial premier in Ontario; I wouldn't vote for a party who thought he might be a suitable leader.

In Quebec, we have the usual idiot Parti Quecbois in power, and they are against fracking. I have a good Pauline Marois joke if anyone is interested.

Completely OT, Don Keiller, are you related to the Dundee jam family, one of whom excavated at Stonehenge?

Mar 6, 2013 at 6:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterpalantir

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