Thu, 28 Sep 2023

UK gas exports to EU are toxic FT
09 Aug 2022, 04:13 GMT+10

Radioactive elements have reportedly been found in liquefied natural gas

EU energy companies have complained that the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) processed in the UK for export to the bloc has toxic and hazardous contaminants, and urged London to rectify the situation, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

The UK processes large volumes of LNG coming mainly from the US and Qatar, and then exports the gas via subsea pipelines to Belgium and the Netherlands. As EU countries have been trying to fill up their gas storages amid the drop in supplies from Russia, the UK has become a vital alternative source.

However, according to the report, several energy companies said that in recent months, gas delivered to UK terminals has often been contaminated with radioactive elements. The companies that reported these findings include Belgian infrastructure giant Fluxys, Germany's Securing Energy for Europe (former Gazprom Germania), and French utility EDF. They have collectively urged UK's National Grid to take urgent action to fix the problem.

National Grid has reportedly recently applied to UK energy regulator Ofgem to temporarily increase the volume of gas exports to mainland Europe via the pipeline to the Netherlands. However, Interconnector Limited, which operates the gas pipeline between the UK and Belgium, said it was surprised with the plan, as supplies this year have consistently been contaminated and caused two shutdowns at the pipeline for repairs.

In a statement to an expert panel that was tasked to examine National Grid's application, Interconnector Limited said the gas was filled with "hazardous, toxic, radioactive and pyrophoric" materials. The company said that any increase in gas volumes of this quality would "exacerbate" problems, "leading to increased risk of disruption to cross-border flows risking both European and GB security of supply."

French EDF voiced similar complaints, stating that the situation has harmed the "efficiency and effectiveness of the interconnected GB-EU gas market."

Energy industry sources told the news outlet that a certain amount of contaminants in the gas flow, sometimes referred to as 'dust', is normal. However, according to them, the amount of dust has increased to "never before seen quantities" in the past four months.

National Grid, however, said that the presence of dust in the UK's national gas transmission system was a "historic and known issue" and noted that the increased amount of maintenance at the pipelines is "not unexpected," given that "gas flows to the continent are much higher than those observed in a typical summer due to the important role we are playing in supporting the EU with gas supplies."

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