As households brace themselves for a rise in energy bills amid an industry crisis, many are wondering where the UK gets its gas supplies from.
A significant rise in wholesale gas prices has been the final nail in the coffin for some energy suppliers that have gone bust in recent weeks due to financial pressures.
Price increases are attributed to a combination of factors which began with a cold winter across Europe last year, high levels of demand, lower wind and solar renewable energy outage, planned maintenance work and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
So where does the UK get its gas supply from and is there a stock shortage ahead of the winter?
Does the UK have a gas shortage?
Compared to other countries across Europe, the UK has much less gas storage.
Figures from Gas Infrastructure Europe show that Italy, Germany, France, Netherlands, Poland and Spain all have larger gas supplies than the UK.
Italy leads the way with 166.2 TWh (terawatt hours), followed by Germany with 147.1 TWh and France with 113.7 TWh, with the UK storing 8.9 TWh.
One terawatt hour is the equivalent to an output of one trillion watts for one hour.
Where does UK gas come from?
The UK continues to produce gas but its output has been steadily decreasing over the past 20 years, with more than half of its gas now imported.
Natural gas piped from the North Sea and the East Irish Sea to refineries on land makes up 44% of the UK’s gas production.
Around 47% of the UK’s gas supply now comes from across Europe - predominantly Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, and Russia - through long distance pipelines.
While 9% of the UK’s gas is imported as liquid natural gas transported around the world in tankers at temperatures below -160C by ship, mainly from Qatar.
The UK has been hit badly by the gas shortage due to 85% of its homes using gas central heating - one of Europe’s biggest users of natural gas.
Who are the UK’s big six energy suppliers?
A collection of well established energy companies are known as ‘the big six’.
They are the biggest energy suppliers in the UK and have been dominant in the sector for some time - but they are not adverse to change with many mergers having taken place.
Traditionally, the big six were British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, npower, Scottish Power and SSE.
Though SSE is owned by OVO, npower is owned by E.ON and Scottish Power is owned by Iberdrola and not all the companies supplying gas to the UK are based in the UK.