Britain’s largest gas storage site is a step closer to reopening after regulators approved a new licence, boosting Western efforts to cut reliance on Russian gas.
Centrica has been approved by the North Sea Transition Authority to store gas at the Rough storage site off the coast of Yorkshire, five years after closing it down because it was uneconomic.
There are hopes the facility could be reopened as soon as this autumn, but ministers are still in talks with Centrica about possible financial support to help it reopen. That could see a levy added to consumer bills, deepening the cost of living crisis.
Efforts to reopen the site come amid concern over gas supplies this winter as Russia restricts flows to Europe.
The EU yesterday told member states to cut their gas demand by 15pc in a bid to avoid rationing and blackouts this winter.
Moscow restarted flows through the Nordstream 1 pipeline on Thursday after a shutdown for maintenance, dismissing fears that it would not restart.
The latest figures showed Russian gas was flowing to Germany at about 40pc of capacity between 7am and 8am, roughly the same as before the maintenance work began.
However, German network regulator president Klaus Mueller wrote on Twitter: “In view of the missing 60% and the political instability, there is no reason yet to give the all-clear.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday said a full cut-off was “a likely scenario” at some point over winter.
The UK gets little gas directly from Russia but is exposed to knock-on effects from Europe’s market including soaring prices.
The Rough storage facility sits 18 miles off the coast of Yorkshire and can hold up to 100bn cubic metres of gas. Before its closure in 2017, Rough accounted for about 70pc of Britain’s storage capacity.
The NSTA says the Rough project will require further regulatory approvals before it can re-open.