tower ad PIPE 2021-2022 (left)
tower ad PIPE 2021-2022 (right)

“Half empty” UK gas pipeline prompts calls for inquiry

UK MAJOR energy users have voiced concerns that the UK-Continental Europe gas pipeline – the Interconnector, between Zeebrugge in Belgium and Bacton – is running below full capacity, despite soaring gas prices on the British side

. The UK’s Energy Intensive Users Group is calling for intervention to ensure that capacity on the pipeline is used to the full, with the transmission and network firm National Grid earmarked as a potential purchaser of some of the purported spare capacity.

Currently, capacity on the pipeline is controlled by a consortium of seven oil and gas majors, ranging from Germany’s E.ON to Russian giant Gazprom. The UK’s energy minister Malcolm Wicks has already warned that the operators of the line risk losing ownership rights should they fail to ensure that a transparent and fair gas supply is maintained.

A Department of Trade and Industry spokesman is reported to have told The Scotsman newspaper that Mr Wicks has asked for an investigation into why the Interconnector has not been used properly. Similarly, the UK energy regulator Ofgem is also understood to have asked for an EU investigation into the allegedly malfunctioning continental wholesale energy market.

However a spokesman for E.ON, perhaps acknowledging the impact of the recent Russia-Ukraine gas crisis, told The Scotsman that “there’s not much gas in Europe, full stop. A lot of European countries have worries about their gas supply and are holding onto it.”

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