asked Her Majesty's Government:
What assessment has been made of the likelihood of the 5.6 billion cubic metres of new gas storage capacity outlined in the May 2007 Energy White Paper being delivered; which proposed gas storage projects expected to contribute to this new capacity are currently awaiting determination by them; and when they expect to make decisions on these projects. [HL1773]
Underground gas storage projects with a design capacity of 2,045 mcm are currently in the planning process. The great majority of these applications fall to local authorities, under the Town and Country Planning Act. However, preliminary submissions under the Gas Act 1965 in respect of two projects—at Albury and Saltfleetby—are currently being considered by the Secretary of State. There is no statutory timetable for considering applications under this Act. If the Secretary of State allows the preliminary applications, the projects would proceed to the formal application stage, when they would be fully scrutinised in the statutory process. These two projects would have a combined capacity (included in the 2,045 mcm) of approximately 885 mcm.
The Government do not make probabilistic assessments that particular projects will proceed to commissioning. Whether to proceed with consented projects is a commercial decision, which will reflect technical and commercial factors. The current position is that new underground gas storage with a design capacity of some 2,059 mcm, and LNG storage with a design capacity equivalent to 922 mcm of gas in gaseous form, has been consented, and is either under construction or awaiting the start of construction. In addition, expansion projects are under way at a number of existing facilities, while a number of projects—some commercially confidential—are at the development (pre-consents) stage.
The Government's most recent assessment of the outlook for gas storage is set out in BERR's “Energy Markets Outlook”, published in October 2007 and available at www.berr.gov.uk/energy/energymarketsoutlook/page41839.html.