Ireland MEP Warns UK Could Cut Off Natural Gas Supply Amid Shortage This Winter

The UK and most of Europe have been dealing with an energy crisis since Western nations put sanctions on Russia, limiting the importation of natural gas from the country.

The United Kingdom’s energy regulator Ofgem has warned there is a “significant risk” of natural gas shortages this winter, leading to alarm in Ireland, which depends on imports from the UK for most of its natural gas needs.

Ireland imports roughly 70% of its gas through Scotland via the Moffat interconnector pipeline. The remaining supplies come from Ireland’s sole source of natural gas, the Corrib gas field, which is only capable of providing 30% of Ireland’s energy needs. The percentage of supplies is expected to decrease over the next decade.

This dependence on the UK has led some in Ireland to push for importation from countries other than the UK.

“I mean, clearly we have to have some form of agreement with the UK government and with UK gas suppliers that in the event of there being a shortage that we would still be supplied gas,” said Billy Kelleher, Fianna Fail Member of European Parliament for Ireland South. “And that clearly makes us very vulnerable.”

The Irish coalition government opposes the importation of liquified natural gas (LNG) because much of it is obtained through hydraulic fracking, which is banned in much of Western Europe, including the UK, because of its environmental impact. However, that has not stopped many countries from importing natural gas from the US, where two-thirds of natural gas is produced through fracking. Ireland is an exception and does not import any natural gas from the United States.

Kelleher told Sky News that Ireland needs to improve its natural gas infrastructure and lessen the county’s reliance on the UK.

“We do need an awful lot of work to be carried out in terms of gas storage and our ability to import gas by other means. Primarily LNG, so we are not dependent on gas companies from the UK and on the British government itself, who are finding it difficult to source enough gas for their own country.”

However, it is highly unlikely the UK will cut off the Moffat pipeline, even if things get tight for the UK at home. The state-owned Gas Networks Ireland controls two pipelines that supply gas to Northern Ireland. If the UK tried to shut off the Republic of Ireland’s supply of gas, that would likely result in a corresponding cut-off for Northern Ireland.

“Continuing supplies to Northern Ireland would require the cooperation of the Irish government, even if supplies to the Republic were cut off,” John FitzGerald, a former member of the Northern Ireland Authority for Energy Regulation told SkyNews. “Thus I would anticipate a cooperative solution to any – unlikely – need to ration gas.”

A more likely scenario is that the UK and the Republic of Ireland will suffer whatever fate the winter brings them together, including higher prices or temporary shut-offs.

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