This paper seeks to address questions about UK gas security. Questions such as: what factors should be considered when assessing gas security? What potential threats are there, and what would a better approach to gas security look like?

This briefing is based on two propositions.

First, that gas security matters, because today in the UK gas plays a dominant role in the provision of energy services, accounting for almost 40% of total inland primary energy consumption in 2017. Thus, a shortrun failure of gas security would undoubtedly have significant political and economic consequences.

Second, that the current measure is far too narrow to offer a comprehensive assessment of UK gas security, particularly in a post-Brexit context. Discussions at the Gas Security Forum suggested that: the measure of gas security focuses only on infrastructure capacity and not supply (capacity does not equal flow); it fails to take account of the time-lag for gas delivery; it does not measure diversity or spare capacity; it ignores the impact of multiple asset failures; and, does not consider the costs associated with ensuring greater security.

It is in this context that this paper seeks to address the following questions:

  • What are the constituent factors to consider in assessing gas security?
  • What alternative measures exist?
  • What potentially threatens gas security in the UK?
  • What would a better approach to gas security look like?

The thinking behind this paper is that a more extensive approach to measuring UK gas security is needed to address the less dramatic challenges that face UK gas security, as well as the chance of managing a Black Swan event.