Cygnus; Source: Neptune Energy

More North Sea gas thanks to UK’s broader entry specification limit

The UK government has made a decision to widen the country’s gas entry specification limit, which will enable more North Sea gas to enter the country’s National Transmission System (NTS).

Cygnus; Source: Neptune Energy

The UK disclosed earlier this month that the amendments to the Gas Safety (Management) Regulations 1996 were approved by the government, bringing to a conclusion the review of gas quality regulation. The regulatory changes being made through the Gas Safety (Management) (Amendment) Regulations 2023, which are coming into force from 6 April 2023, specify that gas that is permitted in gas networks in Great Britain “must have a relative density of ≤0.700.” The incomplete combustion factor and sooting index values are no longer required.

Furthermore, the gas that is permitted in gas networks in Great Britain may have an oxygen content of ≤1% (molar) so long as it is conveyed at pressures ≤38 barg. The permitted oxygen content for gases conveyed at pressures above 38 barg will remain ≤0.2% (molar). In addition, liquified natural gas (LNG) import facilities will be subject to the cooperation requirements set down by the regulations.

On the other hand, the gas emergency telephone service is now known as the Emergency Reporting Service while the function of the service remains the same. However, no gas network may operate without an Emergency Reporting Service Provider in place and a new schedule has been created outlining the particulars to be included in the safety case of the Emergency Reporting Service Provider.

Aside from this, the lower Wobbe Number limit for gas permitted in gas networks in Great Britain will change to  ≥46.5MJ/m3 on 6 April 2025 while pipelines conveying biomethane must be operated with a safety case. This will come into force on 6 April 2023.

However, dutyholders will have until 6 October 2024 to prepare and submit a safety case to the HSE if they are not already operating with one. Biomethane can continue to be conveyed to treatment or blending points if the gas requires them in order to bring it into conformity with Schedule 3 gas quality specifications.

“These changes will maintain and improve the standards of safety that have been achieved to date by the Gas Safety (Management) Regulations 1996 in extending existing provisions to relevant stakeholders and dutyholders. This will provide clarity and consistency in how pipelines are safely operated and by ensuring that regulation adequately reflects and controls current industry practices and standards,” outlined HSE.

Neptune welcomes changes to gas entry specification limit

In response to the wider gas entry specification limit, Neptune Energy said that the move would reduce the UK’s reliance on higher carbon, higher cost and less secure imported gas, supporting the government’s aim of energy independence by 2040. The updated gas entry specification is due to take effect in April 2025.

Alan Muirhead, Neptune Energy’s UK Country Director, remarked: “When enacted, the change will remove decades-old constraints on the energy industry that curtailed the supply of lower carbon North Sea gas. It will enable Neptune to export more gas from our operated Cygnus gas facility in the UK southern North Sea, which is capable of supplying 6 per cent of the UK’s gas demand – enough to heat two million homes.”

The company underlines that significant volumes of gas produced in the UK North Sea fall just outside the existing specification and must be blended with higher specification gas before entering the NTS for supply to UK homes and businesses.

Therefore, the firm highlights that widening the specification will remove the need for blending, unlock additional supplies of domestically produced gas, and bring the UK in line with many other countries in Europe with high gas demand, including Germany, the Netherlands and Poland.

“Moreover, it sends a positive signal to UK gas producers, encouraging infrastructure investments that can unlock additional gas supplies in the future,” concluded Muirhead.