UK: Gas supply rationed as temperature drops to -21C

The same is happening in China:

Freezing Beijing rations gas supply (Financial Times)

Chinese cities not ready for harsh winter (Xinhua):

Seven provinces and regions in eastern and central China have reported power rationing and Beijing declared an emergency due to the gas shortage after the new cold snap gripped much of China, resulting in soaring energy demand as coal supplies were already tight in most of the areas struck by the severe winter weather.

The China Meteorological Administration issued a cold-snap warning on Tuesday, saying temperatures in northern China had plummeted to minus 20 and 32 degrees Celsius, and the temperature in central China, including Hubei and Jiangxi provinces and the eastern coastal provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang, nudged close to minus 8 and minus 5 degrees Celsius respectively.


nasa-satellite-image-of-a-snow-covered-uk
A Nasa satellite image of a snow-covered UK: ‘It’s very unusual to have such uniform coverage,’ said the forecaster Michael Dukes

The gas was turned off for nearly 100 businesses yesterday to protect domestic power supplies after unprecedented demand brought on by the cold weather.

The national grid was forced to reduce the supply to companies in the North West and East Midlands shortly after issuing its second warning in three days that the system was running out of gas. Demand in recent days has been 28 per cent above seasonal norms and is likely to increase today after temperatures fell to minus 21C in some areas overnight — the coldest night of the winter so far.

Business groups and politicians criticised the Government’s attempts to safeguard the supply and called for more gas storage facilities to be built. “The longstanding vulnerability in our energy system has today been exposed and as a nation we now need to take security of our energy supply more seriously,” said Roger Salomone, the energy adviser of EEF, the engineering employers organisation.

John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP, said: “We are on the edge when it comes to our power supplies and there is no safety margin.”

National Grid issued a warning that the system would run short when pressure dropped in a pipeline that brings gas from Norway to a terminal at Easington on the East Coast of England. It said that it had been the first time in six years it had been forced to curtail the supply.

Britain’s biggest salt mine and the Government are drawing up rationing plans as councils run out of supplies to grit roads. Gordon Brown asked Salt Union, which runs the Winsford Rock Salt Mine, in Cheshire, to increase production as Richard Stokoe, of the Local Government Association, said that some councils such as West Berkshire had enough for only one round of gritting.

Supplies reach dangerous levels in arctic UK (NEWS.com.au)

Thousands of minor roads and residential streets were icebound last night. The A628 in Derbyshire and Yorkshire, the A66 in Cumbria, the A1(M) in Co Durham and the M20 in Kent all remained closed along with several roads in Wales. Bus services in Cornwall were cancelled.

Thousands of people were left waiting for delayed flights and trains and hundreds were trapped underground for two hours after a Eurostar train broke down in the Channel tunnel.

Eurostar, which suspended services for three days before Christmas as a result of snow-related breakdowns, cancelled nine trains and said only a limited service would run today.

Passengers were evacuated from a train in Surbiton, Surrey, because of a fire beneath a carriage. Broken-down trains also caused disruption at Cambridge, Bolton, Colchester and between Bedford and Sevenoaks. Commuters trying to get home last night faced delays. Throughout the day 11 per cent of trains were cancelled and fewer than half ran on time.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled, including more than 130 at Gatwick. EasyJet cut more than 100 services and British Airways cancelled 113 flights at Heathrow and 36 at Gatwick.

Christopher Sturman, the chief executive of the Food Storage and Distribution Federation, said that its members were working “flat out” to get supplies to retail outlets but admitted there were “pinch points”.

Milk supplies are being disrupted by the extreme weather with tankers being prevented from collecting fresh stocks from farms in remote parts of the country. Most problems were in the Midlands and the West of England owing to poor conditions on the roads, a spokesman said.

January 8, 2010
Carl Mortished, International Business Editor

Source: The Times

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