1 Apr 2013

UK gas stocks swell on supplies from Qatar

7:45 am on 1 April 2013

Stocks of liquefied natural gas in the United Kingdom have swollen over the past week after three big Qatari deliveries helped replenish low heating fuel supplies during the coldest March in over 50 years.

Britain's relatively small gas stocks fell to just 2594 gigawatt hours (about 225 million cubic metres) on Saturday according to the latest data from National Grid, as prolonged cold weather kept heating demand well above seasonal norms.

But the deliveries from Qatar of super-cooled gas, with the latest unloading in Wales on Saturday, have swelled additional stocks of liquefied natural gas (LNG) held at import terminals to 6219 GWh, or around 540mcm, up from 358mcm the previous Sunday, Reuters reports.

Despite gas demand expected to be around 303mcm this Sunday, about 20% above normal for the time of year, National Grid expects supplies coming from Norway, continental Europe and the UK's own North Sea gas fields to exceed demand.

Britain's Met office said on Thursday that March looked set to be the coldest since 1962, with a mean temperature of just 2.5 degrees Celsius between 1 March and 26 March.

The prolonged cold weather has drained UK stocks held in traditional storage sites in gaseous form to about 5% of capacity on Saturday.

The terminals - two in south Wales and one near London - each have several large storage tanks, some the size of London's Albert Hall, where they keep the gas super-chilled in its liquid state before warming it back into gaseous form when needed.

Another LNG tanker is on course to deliver a cargo from Trinidad on Monday, according to ship tracking data on Reuters, which should boost stocks by about another 80mcm.