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1: Gas prices flare

The biggest jump in British gas prices in 8 years has prompted concerns in industry and government about over security of supply and an ever increasing reliance on imports of natural gas. How did this happen?

Explosions at an Austrian gas distribution hub and in a Norwegian gas pipeline. Structural failures in pipelines from the Fortes natural gas fields. Numerous recent earthquakes in the Dutch North Sea Groningen field. All contributed, as did switching from coal to gas fired electricity generation in China.

But this increase was just waiting to happen because Britain produces only 43 per cent of its gas needs. We import 44 per cent through pipelines from the Netherlands, Norway and Belgium and the rest as liquefied natural gas by tanker.

Natural gas supplies four out of five homes, and a quarter of electricity production relies on it. It’s essential for us, but those supplies are not secure. Russia provides 35 per cent of Europe’s gas market and might prefer to sell elsewhere. Dutch North Sea supplies are being scaled down because of the earthquakes.

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