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National Grid says UK electricity supply would survive hostilities with Iran

08 October 2012

Speaking at a conference in London on October 5, Chris Train, the National Grid’s Network Operations Director, said that the lights would stay on in the UK in the event of the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, a key shipping route for liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Qatar, which supplies nearly all of Britain's LNG.

The National Grid's Chris Train says electricity supply issues are regularly reviewed with the security services
The National Grid's Chris Train says electricity supply issues are regularly reviewed with the security services

Iranian politicians and officials have often said Iran could block the strait - the neck of the Gulf through which 40% of the world's seaborne oil exports passes - in response to sanctions or military action by the United States and its allies intended to stop Tehran developing a nuclear programme.

Train said the UK’s electricity industry could burn more coal, rather than gas, so a reduction in LNG supplies would not threaten power generation.

"Clearly we talk to the security services around the likelihood of a threat and look at scenarios if it closed," Train is reported as saying by Reuters.

Britain, Europe's largest gas consumer, has increased its reliance on gas imports in recent years as domestic production declines and demand continues to rise.

Middle Eastern producer Qatar has played a growing role in supplying Britain with gas as more import terminals have opened. All LNG shipments from Qatar, the world's biggest LNG exporter, sail through the Strait of Hormuz.

The UK is the eighth largest importer of LNG in the world and has four LNG import terminals. Its South Hook LNG terminal in Milford Haven in Wales is Europe’s largest and is owned and operated by Qatar Petroleum, ExxonMobil and Total.

In September, a large international fleet led by three US Navy aircraft carriers was assembled for 12 days of wargames in the Arabian Gulf to send a message to Iran that any attempt to block the Strait would be met with overwhelming force.

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