Expert warns of post-Brexit gas supply shortages

The EU could reduce winter energy exports to Britain after Brexit, warns industry leader.

According to European energy mogul, Marco Alvera, Brexit may place the UK at danger of gas supply shortages and increasing winter prices.

Alvera presently heads the GasNaturally European sector group and is CEO of Snam, Europe’s largest natural gas utility.

Nearly half of the gas supply consumed in the United Kingdom comes from Europe and public statistics state that in 2018, 39% of the country’s total energy supply was produced by natural gas.

However, Alvera informed the BBC that during cold spells gas exports to Britain could be limited.

He said: “We’ve spoken to several ministers and civil servants over the last two years. Energy has not been discussed enough.

“I would make [energy] a high priority in the discussions, and I haven’t seen it be like that.”

Tariff tip-off

Alvera also advised that despite UK dependence on imported natural gas resources over the winter, the introduction of tariffs on its gas and electricity exports after Brexit may not be prevented by EU nations.

He added: “In the week [last year] when we had the ‘Beast from the East’ cold spell, the system was already under a lot of strain, and the UK was taking a lot of gas from Europe that was stored in Europe”.

Alvera also pointed to the decrease in the UK’s own North Sea gas supplies and the shutdown of components of its gas storage facilities as problems that exacerbated European energy dependence.

Storage solution

He thinks, however, that converting unused gas fields in the North Sea into storage facilities could help to solve the problem.

In 2017, British Gas statistics showed that 44% of UK gas is generated domestically, with 47% coming from Europe (Russia and Norway) and the remaining 9% coming from LNG exports.

Since then, the numbers have raised concerns about UK dependence on Russian power sources while diplomatic relations stay tense.

In Norway’s case, although it is not an EU member state, it falls within the internal market for energy and is therefore bound by EU regulations.

A 2017 House of Lords report on the problem proclaimed it “unlikely” that the EU would place tariffs on gas and electricity provided to Britain after Brexit, even if the UK leaves with no deal.

However, it stated that tariffs could take place elsewhere in the energy industry, including on products commonly used in the construction and maintenance of the energy system.