Opening up the gas market in Great Britain

Richard Mason's picture
Richard Mason, Innovation Project Manager, Scotia Gas Networks
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Great Britain (GB) is now a net importer of gas, with prices and access to supply increasingly dependent on international markets. Hence, GB gas prices exhibit volatility, given the short-term and/or spot market conditions. Whilst the sources of new natural gas are numerous, gases have different compositions and GB’s specification for gas composition is very prescriptive, therefore limiting the gas market and exacerbating the problem.

Current arrangements dictate that in order for gases with compositions that sit outside of GB’s specification to be conveyed and used within GB, expensive gas processing is required to bring them within these specifications. This limits the type and source of gases which can be used in GB and, in turn, ultimately leads to increased costs for the consumer.

This project aims to demonstrate that gas, which meets the European Association for the Streamlining of Energy Exchange-gas (EASEE Gas) specification, but sits outside of the characteristics of gas specified within GB Gas Safety (Management) Regulations (GS(M)R) 1996, can be distributed and utilised safely and efficiently in GB. For this demonstration, SGN have made use of a unique opportunity to utilise one of their discrete, isolated networks which it operates in remote parts of Scotland, called the Scottish Independent Undertakings (SIUs).

SGN’s project is based in Oban, in the Scottish Highlands, where they transport gas to 1,100 properties. Over the past year SGN has been testing gas appliances across a range of gas compositions, both in laboratory conditions and in-situ at the properties. The results to date have demonstrated unequivocally that a revised GB Wobbe Index limit of up to 53.25 MJ/m³ would not pose a material increase in risk to gas users. SGN has recently submitted an exemption request to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) which would allow them to trial this new gas composition in Oban for a period of one year.

The project is based on the principles of increasing competition for network entry, improving energy security, reducing the cost of gas for customers through opening up the market to new sources and reducing the requirement for expensive processing in the future. The Project is a GB first and will pioneer the way for new sources of gas which can support energy diversity as well as security of supply.

SGN expects the project to last three years. The injection of gas into the Oban network is scheduled for July 2015. [Article ends.] To find out more about this project, click here.

Will this innovative project reduce costs across the gas market in Great Britain? Let us know your views below.

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