Where does the UK get gas from – and how much is imported from Russia?

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Russia is one of the main gas suppliers to Europe, although its stance on Ukraine has strained relations with Western countries and led to Vladimir Putin shutting down supplies to Poland and Bulgaria

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The amount that utilities have paid for gas has increased by 250% since the start of 2021 – and by 70% in August 2021 alone – according to data from industry group Oil & Gas UK.

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Prices have risen due to a combination of factors, starting with a cold winter across Europe last year when many were spending more time indoors than before due to Covid lockdowns.

High demand coupled with reduced outages from renewable wind and solar and planned maintenance work has squeezed supplies and pushed up wholesale gas prices.

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So where does the UK get its gas supply from and is there a supply shortage ahead of winter?

Does the UK have a gas shortage?

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Compared to other countries across Europe, the UK has far fewer gas storage facilities.

Figures from Gas Infrastructure Europe show that Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain all have larger gas reserves than the UK.

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Italy leads with 166.2 TWh (terawatt hours), followed by Germany with 147.1 TWh and France with 113.7 TWh, while the UK stores 8.9 TWh.

One terawatt hour is equivalent to one trillion watts of power for one hour.

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What did the government say about a “gas shortage”?

But Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said there was “absolutely no talk of the lights going out this winter given escalating energy prices”.

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Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Kwarteng said the UK has a “diverse choice of gas supply sources”, adding: “We have sufficient and more than sufficient capacity to meet demand and we do not expect to see any supply shortages this winter comes .

“There is absolutely no question that the lights will go out or people will not be able to heat their homes. There won’t be a three-day week or a throwback to the 1970s.

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“Such thinking is alarmist, unhelpful and utterly misguided.”

Where does British gas come from?

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The UK continues to produce gas, but its production has declined steadily over the past 20 years, with more than half of its gas now being imported.

Natural gas piped from the North Sea and East Irish Sea to onshore refineries accounts for 44% of UK gas production.

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Around 47% of Britain’s gas supply now comes from across Europe – mostly Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium and Russia – via pipelines.

While 9% of UK gas is imported as LNG, it is shipped around the world in tankers at temperatures below -160°C, mostly from Qatar.

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The UK has been hit hard by gas shortages, with 85% of its homes running on gas central heating – one of the biggest consumers of natural gas in Europe.

By how much will my energy costs increase? (Graphic: Mark Hall / JPIMedia)

Who are the UK’s six major energy suppliers?

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A collection of established energy companies is known as the “Big Six”.

They are the largest energy suppliers in the UK and have dominated the sector for some time – but they are not averse to change as many mergers have taken place.

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Traditionally the Big Six have been British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, Scottish Power and SSE.

Although SSE is owned by OVO, npower is owned by E.ON and Scottish Power is owned by Iberdrola and not all companies supplying gas to the UK are based in the UK.

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Smaller companies, particularly those focused on renewable energy, have gained market share in recent years, including Bulb and Octopus.

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