Britain may not have enough gas to meet demand, following freezing weather conditions and an outage at the South Hook LNG terminal in Milford Haven, writes Ollie Cole.

The National Grid this morning issued a ‘gas deficit warning’, as fears mount that supplies could run empty across the country.

A ‘perfect storm’ of supply issues and rocketing demand have hit the nation, with the unexpected South Hook LNG outage leaving a forecasted supply shortfall of around 50 million cubic metres just as the snow warning for Wales is upgraded to the highest red “extreme weather” level by forecasters.

According to the terminal’s latest REMIT (Regulation on Energy Market Integrity and Transparency) messages, South Hook LNG experienced the unplanned outages between 05:23 and 07:25 this morning, but normal operations have since resumed.

Tom Marzec-Manser, head of the European gas team at commodity price agency ICIS, says the incident at South Hook saw all 60 million cubic metres per day of capacity at the site going offline.

A spokesperson for South Hook LNG told the Western Telegraph that because operations at the terminal are commercially sensitive, it would be ‘inappropriate’ to comment on the outage.

Dr Jonathan Marshall, energy analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said that as well as the short-term issues such as extreme weather conditions, that the failure of successive governments to “map out a secure gas future in the way that they have done so successfully for electricity” was also to blame.

He continued that “allowing Centrica to close the UK's only big long-term gas store without consideration for supply during cold snaps, failing to develop a coherent plan for low-carbon heating, and above all a head-in-the-sand approach to improving energy efficiency in homes have all put households and businesses at risk of shortages and price spikes."

The country’s biggest gas storage facility – The Rough site in the North Sea – which had accounted for 70% of the UK’s gas storage was closed last year, meaning that the UK now draws on stores dotted around the country, plus liquified natural gas South Hook in Pembrokeshire.

Gas storage is currently at the lowest level since records began in 2006, mainly because of the closure.

Today’s warning is not expected to affect household supplies, but shortages could hit industrial users.

In a statement, the National Grid said: "National gas demand today is high and due to the extreme weather conditions, there have been gas supply losses overnight.”

They added that the ‘Gas Deficit Warning’ is “an indication to the market that we'd like more gas to be made available to ensure the safe and reliable operation of the national gas network” and that they “are in communication with industry partners and are closely monitoring the situation."

Meanwhile, the freezing temperatures and effects of the ‘Beast From The East’ and Storm Emma are due to continue hitting the UK for the rest of the week, with school closures in Pembrokeshire already being put in place for tomorrow in preparation.