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Energy supply security: UK

Hydrocarbon Engineering,


  • Oil was 32% of total primary energy supply in 2012.
  • The UK became a net importer of oil in 2005.
  • Oil demand in 2012 averaged 1.5 million bpd.
  • Oil imports averaged 504 000 bpd in 2012, or 37% of demand.
  • The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is responsible for coordinating the country’s response to oil supply emergencies.
  • The UK has a Compulsory Stockholding Obligation (CSO) on oil companies.
  • Refining companies are required to hold stocks equivalent to 67.5 days of their supplies during the previous four quarters.
  • Importing companies must hold stocks equivalent to 58 days.
  • At the end of July 2013, the UK held approximately 83 million bbls of oil and oil products.
  • In 2012, natural gas was 34% of total primary energy supply.
  • In 2012, total natural gas production was 41 billion m3.
  • In 2012, gas demand was 78 billion m3.
  • The UK imported 47% of its natural gas requirements in 2012.
  • UK natural gas security of supply relies primarily on diversification of import sources and infrastructure and supply routes.


  • The UK ranks fourth among IEA countries based on domestic crude oil production.
  • 2012 oil production averaged 951 000 bpd.
  • UK production is expected to decline for the foreseeable future to below 800 000 bpd in 2020.
  • UK crude import sources are relatively widely diversified.
  • The UK has a refining capacity of 1.9 million bpd and is a net product exporter.
  • Over 200 companies are involved in the distribution and marketing of oil products.
  • There are seven major refineries in operation supplying over 90% of inland demand for oil products.
  • Vertically integrated IOCs have traditionally dominated the refining sector.
  • The government’s preferred option for responding to an emergency is to draw down oil stocks.
  • Approximately 40% of the stocks held in the UK are in the form of crude oil.
  • There are no restrictions on the location of compulsory stocks.
  • Oil companies and importers are required to submit monthly oil returns to DECC.
  • The most effective demand restraint measures would be targeted towards the use of transport fuels.
  • Demand restraint measures in the UK are set out in the National Emergency Plan for Fuel.
  • Fuel switching is not a viable option at present.


  • Natural gas demand peaks during the winter months.
  • UK has been a net importer of gas since 2004.
  • The sector is privately controlled, including production, distribution and transmission.
  • Working natural gas storage capacity in the UK is approximately 4.7 billion m3.
  • The UK has a market based regulatory regime for the natural gas sector.
  • Fuel switching in power generation is the most common response to reduction sin the natural gas supply.
  • The market is able to respond to periods of high demand by increasing imports and storage flows to meet demand without any intervention.

Adapted by Claira Lloyd

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