With the energy crisis set to continue well into the winter, many people are wondering where the UK gets its gas from and how much comes from Russia.
The quick and short answer is that the UK currently imports around 50% of gas and sources the other 50% from within the UK itself i.e. the North Sea.
But where exactly are these gas sources located? In this guide we’ll break it all down, including how this may change as the UK government look to improve the UK’s energy security following recent events.
Where does the UK get it’s gas? UK stats
The UK has relied heavily on North Sea gas for many years, but these supplies are now dwindling. Some experts believe that the North Sea’s gas supply could be all but depleted by 2030.
This prediction does not seem far-fetched when one considers that North Sea gas output is already down to a third of what it was in 2000.
At present the UK imports a third of its gas via pipelines from Norway, which is the European country with the most gas.
The UK also imports gas from other European neighbours including the Netherlands, Belgium, and Russia.
The remaining gas supplies are transported in a different form called liquefied natural gas (LNG) from countries including the Qatar and the United States.
Where does the UK get its oil from?
Just like gas, the UK’s main supplier of oil imports is Norway, which currently supplies the UK with around 11.7 million metric tons of crude oil annually. Coming in second as the largest importer of oil to the UK is the United States.
The UK currently uses over 578,000,000 barrels of oil annually, which is an incredible amount. Of that, only around 3% of our oil is imported from Saudi Arabia, which tends to surprise some people who assume they are the main importer.
When will the UK stop drilling for gas and oil in the North Sea?
As previously mentioned, supplies in the North Sea are finite and estimated to run out by 2030 if drilling at the current rate continues.
However, even though the UK continue to drill for gas in the North Sea, this has been challenged by environmental charity Greenpeace.
In 2021, the UK won a court battle against Greenpeace in which the charity argued the government would be violating its agreements and commitments to reach net zero by 2050 if drilling was to continue.
This ruling obviously angered many environmental activists, but the reality is that the UK infrastructure and economy are still heavily reliant on gas and oil and so are not ready for a blanket ban.
When will the UK transition from gas to 100% renewables?
Right now, the UK is still using gas to meet most of the countries energy demands including home heating and electricity production.
In fact, gas is currently used to produce more than 50% of electricity in the UK, with wind power and nuclear power making up the remaining half.
In addition, most homes in the UK heat their homes using a gas or oil boiler. In fact, this figure currently stands at around 22 million households.
On top of that, the majority of cars on the road are using oil in the form of petroleum or diesel.
However, together with the world’s largest economies, the UK government has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050. Therefore, we are likely to see major policy changes and steps taken to achieve this goal.
Right now, this looks like to include things like a gas boiler ban in new build properties from 2025, as well as a potential ban on the sale of non-electric cars from 2030 onwards.
These types of measures will naturally lead to a decline in the demand for both gas and oil imports and as the UK continues the transition to becoming a zero or low carbon economy over the decades this will only continue.
Read all about the UK’s energy security strategy here.
Does the UK export any Gas?
You may be surprised to learn that the UK government or public do not actually own any gas supplies. In reality, they are actually owned by private companies like the energy giant British Gas.
As a result, private companies can exercise their own free will and often make decisions based on profitability.
For instance, it was discovered that in 2021, British Gas did indeed export a substantial amount of gas to Belgium and the Netherlands, as recorded by the Office of National Statistics.
It’s on recently and in the shadow of the ongoing energy crisis that this gas exporting has been highlighted by the media, with many commentators arguing that it simply isn’t moral when their is a cost of living crisis and many people are struggling to pay for their energy, heating and petrol.
UK Gas Stats Summary
The reality is that the UK still heavily relies on gas for it’s economy, transport, infrastructure and for domestic heating and escaping that reliance can not be done in a matter of years.
In reality it will likely take decades.
However, the good news is that the UK government has committed to become carbon neutral by the middle of the century, so this reliance is sure to decline in the coming decades.
As the UK government looks to low carbon solutions and renewables like heat pumps, hydrogen, electric cars and nuclear, we are likely to see a gradual decline in our gas imports.