Change regulations to unlock more gas, driller says

The boss of one of the biggest gas producers in the North Sea has asked ministers to approve a proposal which he claims could unlock millions of barrels to help heat British homes.

Neptune Energy chief executive Pete Jones said that by allowing a slightly lower grade of gas into the network the Government could make it easier for producers to supply into the British market.

The small change would allow gas with slightly lower so-called calorific value – which measures the amount of heat produced when the gas is burnt – into Britain’s gas grid.

At the moment lower-calorific gas has to be blended with higher-calorific gas before it is allowed near the grid.

However, Neptune said that an upcoming report from the Health and Safety Executive is likely to find that it would be safe to allow the gas into the grid without blending it first.

Mr Jones urged Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy secretary Grant Shapps to accept the findings, which come after a long-running review.

“The Health and Safety Executive has determined there are no safety issues with such a change and an initial impact assessment has been completed,” he wrote.

“Final recommendations are due to go to Ministers very shortly and we would urge you to support this change.”

Mr Jones said that one of his sites had to reduce production by around 17% of its total capacity last year due to the rules.

In the longer term the change could allow companies to drill for gas that could power more than 12 million UK homes for a whole year.

However, any further exploration in the North Sea could put the UK’s environmental targets at risk. The International Energy Agency has warned that the world needs to commit to not drilling any new oil and gas wells if it is to reach its environmental targets.