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Following further engineering work and investment, Centrica has announced increased gas storage capacity at Rough, the UK’s largest gas storage facility.

The facility, which is 18 miles off the coast of East Yorkshire, stopped storing gas in 2017 but was re-opened for gas storage in October 2022. Rough now provides half of the UK’s total gas storage.

At the time of reopening Rough for gas storage it was able to store approximately 30 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas for UK homes and businesses. Further investment in the facility means Rough will now be able to store up to 54 bcf of gas, boosting the UK’s energy resilience for the coming winter – this would provide the equivalent volume of gas to heat 2.4 million homes over winter.

The UK has diverse gas supplies with connections with Norway and other European countries and 3 LNG import terminals. However, it still has some of the lowest levels of gas storage in Europe at 12 days average or 7.5 peak winter days, compared to Germany at 89 days, France at 103 days and the Netherlands at 123 days.

"Rough can help our energy system by storing natural gas when there is a surplus and producing this gas when the country needs it during cold snaps and peak demand."

Chris O'Shea, Centrica Group CEO

Rough will help keep prices down for consumers by balancing the UK’s gas market, injecting gas into the facility when there is excess supply and putting that gas back into the UK’s gas network when customers need it most, keeping prices lower at that point of peak demand. The additional capacity means Rough can store up to 6 days of average UK gas use.

Centrica’s long-term ambition is to turn the Rough gas field into the largest long duration low carbon energy storage facility in the world, capable of storing both natural gas and hydrogen.

Centrica Group Chief Executive, Chris O’Shea, said “The resilience of the UK’s energy system needs to be substantially improved.  We are delighted to play our part by further expanding the UK’s gas storage capacity. Rough is not a silver bullet for energy security, but it plays a critical role in increasing capacity and supply confidence over the winter months. Rough can help our energy system by storing natural gas when there is a surplus and producing this gas when the country needs it during cold snaps and peak demand.

“We stand ready to invest £2 billion to repurpose the Rough field into the world’s biggest methane and hydrogen storage facility, bolstering the UK’s energy security, delivering a net zero electricity system by 2035, creating 5,000 skilled jobs and decarbonising the UK’s industrial clusters by 2040. But to do this we need the right regulatory support framework.  This world class North Sea asset has the potential to help the UK economy return to a position of being a net exporter of energy once again.”


Rough Questions & Answers

How many days of storage did you have when you opened in October 2022?

  • At average demand Rough was able to produce enough gas for 3 days of average demand and 2 days of peak winter demand.

How many days does the new capacity add to this – total days for Winter 23/24?

  • At average demand Rough will be able to produce enough gas for 6 days of average demand and 3.5 days of peak winter demand.

Can you add new capacity above this level?

  • This is the maximum pressure that we can operate Rough at without significant new investment. The unpredictable nature of global markets means this type of investment can’t be made on market triggers alone – it would require some form of regulated return model, similar to that already in place for the UK gas interconnectors. No taxpayer cash is required.