Gas pipelines blow up - "THE BIG BANG THEORY – The Bigger the Bang, the Louder the Silence 04/08/04 " identifies the problems the UK faces in energy security.
Late sleepers in Ath, 30 km SW of Brussels were woken by a massive explosion at 8.55 am on Friday July 30th 2004. A gas pipeline exploded.
Between 12 and 16 people died immediately and some 200 were injured of whom 35 who suffered massive burns (many of them emergency service staff) and are not expected to survive.
The UK media offered no comment or analysis on this massive and lethal incident and turned to the important issues of the day, Cherie Blair's swimwear, Lady Di's non-functioning fountain and the endless sex sagas of the denizen's of London's Soho Square.
Silence. A silence induced by an unwillingness to either rule out the possibility of terrorist action or even identify how such an accident (if that is what it was – and nobody has ever decided what caused it) punches a hole in the alleged UK “Energy Policy”.
Now 4 years later there is still do definitive efitive view about the cause of the explosion.
Tonight we learn that there has been an explosion at the Bacton Gas terminal in Norfolk 18 miles NW of Norwich.
Bacton is a sprawling complex of five gas terminals, built over the last 35 years is the largest gas terminal complex in the UK. Gas lands onshore at the three producer terminals from the Southern North Sea and from the Shearwater Elgin Area Line (SEAL) and is then distributed to UK customers via the National Grid terminal, or to Belgium via the Interconnector system. When in reverse flow mode, the Interconnector Bacton Terminal is used to import gas into the UK.
Ten fire engines attended the incident, which was described as ``very large-scale'' by the Norfolk Fire Service press office today. The plant sustained some ``structural damage'' from an explosion, the fire service said. All 17 staff on the site at the time were accounted for and by 7.30pm Shell UK Exploration said: “The fire has now been extinguished and the plant has been shut down safely.”
No gas was flowing through either the Shell Bacton or Bacton Seal terminals, data from National Grid showed.
Total SA halted flows from the Elgin-Franklin fields in the North Sea, which ship gas to Bacton, spokeswoman Jenny Costelloe said. Those fields can pump 280,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day, including 175,000 of gas condensate, a type of light oil.
Flows through the BBL pipeline from the Netherlands were unaffected by the fire, according to National Grid data on Bloomberg. The fuel was arriving into the U.K. at a rate of about 35 million cubic meters a day at 7:58 p.m. GMT
Within-day U.K. gas prices rose on the APX Gas UK exchange, trading at 61.5 pence a therm at 8:08 p.m. GMT, (equivalent of $12.33 per million British thermal units) compared with about 52.5 pence ( a rise of 18%) before the blaze was reported. (A therm is 100,000 British thermal units (BTU))
``Traders taking gas in through Bacton will have to replace those flows,'' said Patrick Heather, an industry consultant and former head of gas trading at BG Group Plc, said in a phone interview. ``The southeast is where the demand is. Bacton is our physical link to the continent.''
Bacton can handle as much as 20% of the U.K.'s net gas imports, Heather estimated.
News of the blaze came after normal trading hours for most gas brokers. The APX exchange is used by National Grid Plc, operator of the U.K.'s gas pipeline network, to buy and sell the fuel to balance daily demand.
Gas traders will ``pounce'' on the Bacton news when trading resumes tomorrow, Heather said. ``At this time of night it will just be balancing trading.''
The APX Gas UK exchange is used by National Grid Plc, operator of the U.K.'s gas pipeline network, to buy and sell the fuel to balance daily demand and provides a real time twenty-four hours a day facility.
Further report from Eastern Daily Press 8 pm which suggests that eveyting is damped down, any fire is out . No offficial public statements have been made by the Fire Services, Terminal operators or the National Grid. 9.0 GMT. At 10.00 pm GMT Police said ave given the all-clear after the explosion and fire at Bacton gas terminal. Officers used an automated system to tell people in 360 homes in and around the village that they were safe, that the fire was out and the plant had been shut down safely.
Gobal oil and gas prices tend to move in unison and in the US Since September 2007, the prices of oil have increased from approximately $75 per barrel to over $100 per barrel and natural gas has increased from $6.13/mmBtu to a recent price of $9.08/mmBtu, a 48 percent increase. Se Chart which is close of business Wednesday 27th.
Today - Crude oil for April delivery rose $3, or 3 percent, to $102.64 a barrel at the 2:30 p.m. close of floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) . Futures rose to $102.97 a barrel, the highest since trading began in 1983. Prices are up 66 % from a year ago.
The Oil Drum has this excellent article posted today on North American natural gas decline. There are interesting comments on the mi of using LNG as a agas source - LNG has a higher energy content and has limited use for domestic equipment currently in use.
UPDATE : Natural gas on APX is being quoted today 57.44 (1.00 GMT) - from 52.55 yesterday before Bacton was hit. You can see the effect on quoted prices in the graph from yesterday.
Oddly enough there is little comment in the UK Press today about the incident.
Bloomberg report ;
Shell said an investigation is underway into the fire at the terminal in Norfolk, England, and it was too early to comment on the cause. The facility sustained ``structural damage'' from the blast, according to a recorded message from the local fire service yesterday.
``We have no date for the re-start of the terminal,'' Shell said in an e-mailed statement today. ``Gas supply to the U.K. is unaffected.'' Shell has been in contact with the National Grid who confirmed there is ``more than enough supply coming into the country from all the various sources,'' according to the statement.
``National Grid are confident there will be no detrimental effect on security of supply,'' Shell
said. ``Only the Shell terminal at the Bacton site is affected.''
Gas shippers started to draw supplies of the fuel from liquefied natural gas stocks at the Glenmavis facility in Scotland today, the first time since Feb. 20. Rough, the U.K.'s biggest gas-storage facility, was 34 % full as of Feb. 28, with more than 26 days of supply at maximum withdrawal rate in stock, according to National Grid data. Smaller storage sites are 60 % full with 10.8 day's supply, while LNG stocks are 67 % full, the grid data show. (The loss of the 2 Shell pipelines at Bacton = 13% of UK gas supply)
Dutch gas for delivery March 3 at the Title Transfer Facility rose 2.8 % to 23.75 euros (US
$36.12) a megawatt-hour, according to Spectron Group Plc. That equals $10.59 a million British thermal units. Next-month gas gained 4.4 percent to a month-high of 23.65 euros = 55.3 p Therm.