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Ministers accused over gas storage

The Conservatives have accused the Government of leaving the UK’s energy security in a “fragile” state, with only three days’ worth of gas storage available.

But the National Grid said it was “relaxed” about the storage situation, which it said was roughly the same as at the same time last year.

Energy Secretary Ed Miliband countered by accusing the Tories of “alarmism”, arguing that the storage figures were meaningless unless supplies by pipeline from the North Sea and Europe were also taken into account.

Shadow energy secretary Greg Clark highlighted National Grid figures which showed that at 6am yesterday, the UK had 11,578 GWh of gas in storage.

This was the lowest level recorded in recent years, and equivalent to less than three days of demand he said.

“Were it not for the reduction in demand due to the recession, Britain’s gas security would be in an even more parlous state,” said Mr Clark yesterday.

“We have already had four Gas Balancing Alerts this year, exposing just how fragile Britain’s energy security is following a decade of Government indifference and complacency.

“The Government should act to safeguard our energy security and ensure that we always have a prudent security margin of gas supply.”

But a National Grid spokesman said: “Storage stocks are roughly the same as they were at this time last year, as you would expect after a cold winter.

“But the UK is fortunate in having diverse supplies of gas, of which storage is just one component, and we are relaxed about the current security of gas supply.

“We are still getting about half our gas from the North Sea, large volumes through pipelines from Norway, gas from Europe via interconnectors and bigger volumes of gas from liquefied natural gas terminals.

“At the beginning of this year, we saw the market using that diversity of supply to meet demand,” he said.

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