Centrica’s £1.4bn plans to develop a major new UK gas storage facility at Bacton in Norfolk have been dealt a serious blow by the UK government. Ministers have decided against providing subsidies for gas storage projects such as this, saying it would be a waste of bill-payers’ money because Britain has plentiful gas supplies.
Centrica has previously stated that “the project is unlikely to proceed without some form of government support”. Now all the signs are that the creation of the new storage plant will not be going ahead as things currently stand.
The company has also warned that the decision could lead to a sharp rise in gas prices should supplies run short. Britain has enough gas stored to last just 15 days, whereas many other European countries have far larger reserves.
The shelved project, a joint venture between Centrica Storage Limited (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Centrica plc) and Parenco UK, proposed the conversion of the Baird gas field into an offshore storage plant 86 km off the north coast of Norfolk. A scoping report for offshore environmental impact assessment was carried out by RPS Energy in 2009, and a planning application was submitted in February 2010.
Onshore planning permission for the project was granted by local authorities in July 2010, with front-end engineering design (FEED) of the onshore facilities supplied by Genesis Oil & Gas Consultants and Jacobs.
At 108 bcf Baird would have been the second largest gas storage facility in the UK after Rough, owned by Centrica Storage Limited.