It's not often that the National Grid, who happen to amongst other things keep tabs on the gas industry makes headlines. The news that some of the UK's largest energy suppliers held back gas in storage tanks as the 'free market' ran into a serious if not acute gas shortage will not surprise many of the less than dispassionate observers of the expensive farce that passes itself off as the alleged energy 'free market' in the UK. Thanks to the failure to develop a sensible storage capacity of gas and the failure to develop serious serious alternative sustainable energy supplies the UK came within six hours of running out of gas on March 22nd this year.
National Grid, which leases out storage space in it's Isle of Grain Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal, to Centrica (who own British Gas), BP and other large energy suppliers, noted that the terminal was 40% full on March 22nd. It also noted that the South Hook planet (here in Wales) was 52% full; at a time when a combination of pipelines problems and demand (due to the cold weather) led to a spike in gas prices (which reached 150 pence a therm). National Grid owns and operates the gas storage facility but leases out storage to a number of third party users (including Sonatrach (Algeria) and GDF (France). The implication is that these large energy suppliers were holding back stocks of gas during a time of crisis so that they could profit for the high price for gas.
If nothing else this should make it abundantly clear that the ideologically driven and pretty much unregulated 'free market' for energy has failed abysmally. We need, like Scotland and other countries to develop clean, safe and secure renewable energy supplies. I have come to the stark conclusion that the 'Big 6 energy cartel members have proved entirely focused on driving up profits and have neglected the safety of supply. They should play no part in developing, administering and overseeing any sustainable energy supplies as they will only endeavour to extract as much profit as they can from the process.