Where Does The UK Get Its Gas From?

James Elston
Written by James Elston
Updated on 16th November 2023
Posted on 15th November 2023
Topic: Boiler Advice
Where Does The UK Get Its Gas From?

The Russian invasion of Ukraine had a huge effect on gas prices all over the globe, with the UK’s energy prices shooting up as a result.

Russia relied on gas and oil as its two primary exports, so the sanctions applied by the Western world created an immediate and worldwide effect.

Apart from the almost immediate energy price increases, where did this leave the UK, though? Let’s find out.

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The Effect Of Sanctions On Russia For The UK

Around 35% of all natural gas provided to the European continent came from Russia, making it the largest supplier in Europe. Fortunately, the UK never relied on Russian gas to the same degree, with only 3% of the total UK gas supply coming from the Russian Federation, in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

In effect, the UK’s gas prices could have been a lot higher if it had relied more on gas from Russia.

Where Does The UK’s Gas Come From Now?

According to the latest figures available, £19.6 billion of gas was imported in 2021, which was an increase of 312% from the 2020 figure of £4.8 billion. As a matter of interest, the UK also exported gas to the value of £3.4 billion in 2021, showing a 167% increase from the £1.3 billion exported in 2020.

The international market supplies close to 50% of UK gas, with most English and Welsh households heated through a mains gas supply. Gas also fuels approximately 50% of the electricity generated in the UK, meaning that any price increases mean a rise in electricity prices as well.

Norway is the UK’s largest international gas supplier, with £14.5 billion of gas imported from the Nordic country in 2021. This amount equated to 77% of the total UK gas imports over this period.

Other countries that the UK imports gas from include Qatar, which supplied 39% of all liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the country in 2021. This made it the biggest supplier of LNG to the UK during that year.

The United States supplied a further 93,000 metric tonnes of liquefied natural gas. Denmark and Belgium accounted for 45,000 metric tonnes apiece and 9,000 metric tonnes of Russian gas were also imported. France made up the other 8,000 metric tonnes of imported LNG.

Over 2021, Ireland and the Netherlands were the UK’s largest export partners for natural gas.

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With So Few Russian Gas Imports, Why Has the Gas Price Increased?

You may be asking why the UK’s gas price has skyrocketed if it imports so little oil and gas from the Russians. The answer is simple: both crude oil and gas get traded through the global commodities market.

It’s a basic case of supply and demand – with no gas or crude oil from the Russians available, there is less supply and this automatically impacts the global gas and crude oil prices. Whichever countries were directly affected by the sanctions on Russia makes no difference.

A prime example is the US, which never imports fuel from the Russians – the prices in the United States have gone through the same increases since the sanctions were instituted.

Where does the remainder of the UK’s gas come from?

With natural gas imports coming from Norway, and LPG gas coming via sea from a host of other countries, you might ask where the other 50% of the UK’s supply is sourced.

The other 50% comes via domestic gas production and reserves from the United Kingdom’s North Sea basin. Since the gas crisis, the facility has upped its natural gas production. In so doing, it is providing a little relief to the domestic UK gas market and the European market as well.

After a little investment and several new fields since the COVID-19 pandemic, fresh wells are starting to be brought onstream by UK producers. This assisted in raising the country’s natural gas output by 26% over the first half of 2022, with European exports reaching record highs over the period.

With the recent focus on renewable gas, plans are also afoot for more sustainability in the North Sea.

The future of gas in the UK

As one of the fossil fuels, natural gas is a non-renewable, finite energy source. Although it’s a far cleaner source of energy than coal, you still produce greenhouse gases when burning it, meaning it’s not sustainable and plays its part in global warming. As greater sources of renewable energy become available, the UK’s need for gas has begun diminishing.

As much as this is the case, natural gas energy will continue to play an important role in the UK’s energy provision over the next few years. More and more sustainable energy is being introduced into the UK grid, but there’s still a demand for a lot more.

Coal power plants are scheduled to cease operation in 2025. So, until more renewables are provided, reliable suppliers of gas power are necessary to maintain the current domestic energy levels, fuel new boilers and maintain the electricity supply. This is even more pressing while the Energy Price Cap remains in force.

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How Much Gas Is Used In The UK Annually?

Since 2011, the UK has utilised 78 billion cubic feet of gas per annum, on average. This marks a decrease in consumption compared to the amount used on average annually between 2001 and 2010, which amounted to 96 billion cubic feet.

These figures clearly show the impact of sustainable energy, but also indicate the reliance that remains on natural gas and liquefied natural gas, especially for domestic heating as most homes in the UK have a natural gas boiler.

Why Does The UK Need So Much Gas?

It’s not unusual. The vast majority of countries all over the globe rely on natural gas and oil combustion to extract their energy, and the UK is no different. It’s also why the sanctions against Russian oil have had such an impact on energy prices – the demand remains real.

Natural gas contributes to the generation of nearly half of the UK’s electricity. Over and above this, the gas heats 87% of UK homes, with gas boilers as the primary source of heat in 22 million UK households.

The UK and many of the other major world economies have come to an agreement that, by 2050, carbon-neutral energy must have replaced fossil fuels. This means the reliance that the UK has on natural gas will begin to reduce as we move forward.

While the UK needs a lot of gas at present, this will change and is apparent in the intended gas boiler ban in 2035.

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Why Are Gas And Oil So Closely Connected?

Natural gas and crude oil are fossil fuels that get produced through organic matter over millennia. They’re frequently found together in the same reservoirs underground, and extracting one often means extracting the other at the same time.

When oil gets withdrawn from a reservoir, gas can be brought to the surface with it as gas is often sealed within the same rock formations where the oil is found. Certain oil reservoirs actually end up holding more gas than oil and are identified as gas reservoirs.

In a similar fashion, gas drawn from a reservoir sometimes is accompanied by small amounts of oil, known as associated gas or petroleum gas.

Oil and gas production has a strong link in the energy industry, with many oil companies producing gas and vice versa. These commodities are often linked by the supply and demand of the other, meaning their market prices fluctuate in similar patterns.

Should the oil price rise, for example, it becomes economically viable for companies to produce increased oil. As such, natural gas production also increases as a byproduct. The connection between oil and gas will always be a strong one.


How is gas imported into the UK?

Gas is imported into the UK via pipelines and by sea as LNG. Pipelines bring gas from Norway, the UK’s major supplier, while LNG is shipped into UK ports with LNG terminals by tankers.

Are the UK’s gas supply and reserve secure?

The UK has begun increasing the sources of its gas imports, and this has improved the security of its supply. Geopolitical tensions, technical problems, and unpredicted weather events could always inadvertently disrupt supply. Fortunately, the UK has contingency plans that would address these disruptions and cement a secure gas supply.

The North Sea reserves are enough to serve the region’s gas requirements for several years without the need to import gas, if necessary.

Why does the UK import gas?

The UK imports gas to meet energy demands, as it doesn’t produce enough gas to meet its domestic requirements without tapping into its gas reserves. Imports are a necessary way to secure both supply and gas reserve status.

Final Thoughts

Gas has been a major player in the energy industry for a very long time and stands to remain so for a good while longer.

The UK has succeeded in accumulating some strong gas reserves through its North Sea fields. These will ensure that, with the assistance of imports from Norway, and LNG supplies from other countries, the future supply of gas is secure while it’s still needed.

With the continued increase in renewable energy we hope that, for the sake of our world, this doesn’t always need to be the case.

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Written by
James Elston
James Elston Director Of Boiler Central
Posted on: 15th November 2023
Topic: Boiler Advice

James Elston is our resident boiler replacement and heating expert here at Boiler Central. With over 20 years experience in the boiler installation industry, James ensures that he knows everything there is about our Gas Safe boiler installations, energy saving and home heating solutions. This can be from simply procuring the latest best combi boilers, to reviewing and ensuring that Boiler Central maintains the highest standards across our boiler installation company.

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