Gas Crisis UK: Why is there a gas shortage and how will it impact Northern Ireland? Here's what we know so far

October will see gas prices rise for households in Northern Ireland, but what has caused the gas shortage and how will it impact Winter 2021?

Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 12:23 pm

Why is there a gas shortage?

The most glaring cause for the gas shortage is the global pandemic.

As economies start to open, demand for gas is rising, yet in Europe there has been an issue getting supplies in time for winter.

Households in Northern Ireland will see gas prices rise in October.

A long, cold period over winter 2020-2021 saw an increase of supply in usage, normally this would be replenished during the summer months, but this has not happened in 2021.

This means that countries throughout Europe are scrambling to get gas supplies together for the upcoming winter.

In August alone, gas prices in the UK have risen 70%, this hike in price has led to the fear that smaller energy companies across the UK will go bust.

Why is there a C02 shortage?

The rising prices in gas have meant that the two factories in the UK, who are responsible for 60% of the UK's C02 have had to halt production.

Based in Stockton-on-Tees and Cheshire and owned by CF Industries, they have stated on their website, “The Company does not have an estimate for when production will resume at the facilities.”

The lack of C02 could have a far reaching impact for food production and there is a fear that this will lead to shortages this Christmas.

Where does Northern Ireland' s get its gas supply?

Northern Ireland gets its gas supply from both the UK and Ireland through four pipelines:

SNIP (Scotland to Northern Ireland Pipeline) is 135 kilometres long and runs from Twynholm in Scotland to Ballylumford.

BGTP (Belfast Gas Transmission pipeline) is 26 kilometres long and is connected to the SNIP and to the North West Pipeline. It also supplies gas to the Belfast distribution network.

NWP (North West Pipeline) is 112 kilometres long and runs from Carrickfergus to Coolkeeragh Power-station.

SNP (South North Pipeline) is 156 kilometres long and runs from Co Antrim to Gormanstown in Co. Meath, Ireland where it links into the NWP.

Will the collapse of gas companies in England impact NI?

Northern Ireland has six gas companies that supply energy to consumers: Firmus Energy, SSE Airtricity, Go Power, Vayu, Electric Ireland and Flogas.

As of yet, there has been no sign of any provider in Northern Ireland collapsing, but prices for consumers have been rising.

Gas prices in Northern Ireland

In the beginning of September gas companies in Northern Ireland announced that costs were going up.

SSE Airtricity raised their prices by 21.8% which will come into effect in October. This hike will see the average household paying out an extra £112 on their yearly bill.

Firmus Energy have also raised prices by 35%, starting October, adding an estimated £182 onto a yearly household bill.

Why are prices rising?

High demand for gas after the global pandemic have pushed prices up to record levels.

Statistics according to Industry group Oil & Gas UK, estimate that costs have risen 250% since January, and 70% since August.

When will gas prices go down?

The UK is expected to have high prices for the rest of 2021, but if there is a mild winter across the UK and Europe, this could help reduce demand and bring down costs for consumers.