Centrica chief warns about UK’s growing reliance on gas imports

Britain will rely on imports for up to 70% of its gas needs by the end of the decade, Centrica’s chief executive has warned. Sam Laidlaw (pictured) said dependency on […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

Britain will rely on imports for up to 70% of its gas needs by the end of the decade, Centrica’s chief executive has warned.

Sam Laidlaw (pictured) said dependency on gas means shale gas has the potential to make a “significant contribution” to the UK’s future energy mix but it remains “unproven” and many challenges need to be addressed.

Speaking at an international energy conference in Houston, he warned politicians that security of supply risk is becoming a “forgotten priority” of European policy.

An estimated 3.7GW of coal-fired generating capacity will be shut down by the end of 2015 as a result of EU directives to curb emissions, with the UK’s reserve capacity forecast to reduce to 4%.

Mr Laidlaw said: “In primary energy, the UK’s production of gas is falling rapidly. North Sea oil and gas output has fallen by 38% over the last three years. By 2020 we will be reliant on imports to meet 70% of the country’s gas needs. So when it comes to security of supply, there is a pressing need for solutions.”

He also highlighted that increasing political intervention in Britain’s energy market is fragmenting the industry.

“Political uncertainty is the enemy of investment. As a result, investment in new UK generating capacity has virtually ground to a halt”, he said.