Could Britain run out of gas by Sunday?

Gas flameReports of low gas storage levels have stoked fears that the UK is on the brink of running out of gas.

Following weeks of freezing weather and snow forecast around much of the country over the weekend, there are fears Britain could run out of gas by Sunday.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, gas stores are currently at their lowest in three years, with just 10% left which would fulfil British consumption needs for just 36 hours.

Ian Marchant, head of energy giant SSE, has warned the country is facing a huge risk. "It appears the Government is significantly underestimating the scale of the capacity crunch facing the UK in the next three years and there is a very real risk of the lights going out as a result."

The government have been swift to deny any problems. A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said: "Protracted cold weather increases demand but the UK gas market is responsive and our gas needs are continuing to be met.

"Gas storage would never be the sole source of gas meeting our needs, so it is misleading to talk purely about how many days' supply is in storage."

The spokeswoman confirmed that while around half of Britain's gas needs came from the North Sea, pipelines from Norway and shipments from Europe were also key.

"Storage levels are low at the moment - as you'd expect towards the end of winter - and the UK gas market is tight.

"We are in close contact with National Grid, who are able to step into the market to source gas and increase incentives on gas suppliers if they think there is a risk of a supply shortfall."

An update from the DECC is expected to be published next Wednesday.

The unexpected closure of a gas import pipeline has seen gas prices surge. According to reports, a technical fault at a UK-Belgian interconnecter caused the shutdown. The price of gas jumped to 150p a therm, registering a 50% increase.

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