Large energy firms could be forced to hold a minimum level of gas in storage, amid growing concerns about shortages linked to the prolonged period of cold weather.
Just days after analysts raised the prospect of gas rationing, ministers are considering inserting a “security of supply” amendment to the Energy Bill. The government is understood to be considering a proposal by Ofgem, the regulator, that would oblige suppliers to keep stocks above a specified level to ensure recent supply scares are not repeated.
“We are considering whether there is anything else we can do through the Energy Bill… to promote more gas storage. We are looking at possible interventions into the market to encourage greater security of supply,” said a spokesman for the Department of Energy & Climate Change.
Because of its historic reliance on the North Sea’s now diminished gas supply, the UK has a much lower level of storage capacity than many other countries. Britain has the ability to store just 20 days supply of gas, compared to 103 days in France, 92 days in Germany and 70 days in Italy.