New gas storage plans for Bacton

Ed FossA multi million pound natural gas offshore storage project based at Bacton will boost the UK's security of supply, energy bosses said last night.Ed Foss

A multi million pound natural gas offshore storage project based at Bacton will boost the UK's security of supply, energy bosses said last night.

Offshore gas storage is set to become an important part of a reliable energy supply in the coming decades according to experts, especially as the percentage of gas imported to this country continues to increase and the dependency of on overseas supplies rockets.

When usage is low, gas will be pumped offshore and stored in vast depleted natural gas fields. It will then be readily available in the colder months when usage grows.

Centrica Storage and Perenco UK have formed a new company called the Bacton Storage Company Limited (BSCL) in the hope of using a 1.7bn cubic metre gas field called Baird for gas storage.

Baird lies around 50 miles north east of Bacton, past the Hewett and Leman fields, and if it were to be used for storage it could increase UK storage capacity by around a third. It would also mean the UK would begin to close the storage capacity gap with other European countries which are well ahead in their capabilities.

Another Bacton based storage project is in the pipeline run by a different company, but the Baird plans are the first to reach the formal public consultation stage in advance of the submission of a planning application, due to be made in January. All major developments now have to feature an element of pre-application publicity and consultation.

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Public exhibitions will be held at Bacton Village Hall later in the month as part of the consultation.

If planning permission is granted and construction goes to plan, the storage facility could be up and running by May 2013, said BSCL representatives.

'Compared to similar European countries we have very little storage,' said Martyn Brown, from BSCL.

'For instance France can supply around 24pc of their demand from storage, whereas the UK is less than 5pc.'

On top of this, said Mr Brown, the domestic supplies of natural gas were falling and demand was increasing, meaning storage would be more important as the years passed.

Work would see a new offshore facility built, shore works and construction at Perenco's terminal at Bacton.

t The public exhibitions will run from 2pm to 7pm on November 20 and 10am to 3pm the following day. Log on to

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