Locking in long-term gas deals with Norway, Qatar and other countries around the world has become a priority for the new Liz Truss government, as the prime minister said her focus has turned to keeping lights on this winter.
Truss said ministers are “looking” at multi-year deals to cut reliance on imports from authoritarian regimes.
“I have not signed any deal. But what I’m saying is that Britain’s energy security is vital and what we will be doing is always looking for value for money, of course we will, but it’s important that we have that long-term energy security,” she said.
Truss promised to bring down debt after being challenged on whether it was wise to borrow money to sign import deals that lock in current record prices.
She said: “We will be bringing down the debt as a proportion of GDP over the medium term, but making sure we’ve got energy security is clearly vital for our country.”
Asked if she is contemplating buying many years’ worth of Norwegian gas at close to current prices, Ms Truss said: “What I have said is, first of all, we will move forward on our own energy security, so that’s more renewables here in the UK, it’s more nuclear power here in the UK, and it’s also moving forward faster with using North Sea facilities.
“But we are looking at long-term energy contracts with other countries because as well as making sure we’ve got a good price, energy security is vitally important.
“We never want to be in a position again where we’re dependent on authoritarian regimes for our energy. That’s why we’re in the situation we are now,” said Liz Truss
It comes just days after the energy regulator Ofgem warned there is a “significant risk” of gas shortages in Britain this winter due to the war in Ukraine and shortages in Europe.
Britain already gets more gas from Norway than any other source. Around 52 percent of all the UK’s gas imports came from Norway in the second quarter of the year.
The second highest was Qatar, which supplied less than 9 percent of the imports.
Britain has five gas pipelines that bring gas here from Norway and from Norwegian gas fields in the North Sea. There are also two gas pipelines leading to the Netherlands and Belgium.
However, the UK has been exporting through these pipelines all through this summer in order to help meet demand on the continent.
The UK also has one of the best-developed infrastructure networks to bring liquid natural gas on ships into the country.
A lot of this has been arriving on British shores and then shipped by pipelines to mainland Europe.