South West Wales

Gas ship diverts to Milford Haven with six hours' UK supply

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Media captionThe Zarga is carrying about is carrying about six hours' worth of gas for the UK

A giant gas tanker has been diverted to Pembrokeshire to top up dwindling gas supplies depleted by the unseasonable cold weather.

The Zarga is carrying about 266,000 cubic metres of liquefied natural gas (LNG), or six hours' worth for the UK.

It is due to dock at Milford Haven, later on Monday, during a long cold snap which has sparked fears that the UK will run out of stored gas.

But an energy expert said the country's lights would not go out.

During Monday evening the Zarga was south west of St Anne's Head, in Pembrokeshire, and travelling at 20 knots - around 23mph.

It will arrive a day after another tanker, the Mekaines, docked at the Isle of Grain near Kent on Sunday, which also carried 266,000 cubic metres of LNG.

Both ships have enough fuel to supply the UK's gas needs for up to 12 hours.

Some reports suggested that the unusual cold weather could lead to the UK running out of gas within days, but the UK government denied this.

A Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) spokeswoman said: "Protracted cold weather increases demand, but the UK gas market is responsive and our gas needs are continuing to be met".

Julian Lee, senior energy analyst at the Centre for Global Energy Studies, said: "I don't think we should be worried. This is current UK gas strategy at work.

"We have been building LNG import terminals - and this shows that the system is working.

"These terminals are there for a reason - to import LNG when we need it."

Mr Lee said the amount of imported gas varied, depending on the temperature.

He said this was how the UK system should work, but to suggest the country would run out of gas was "unnecessary scaremongering".

He said: "The lights may go out in places, but that will be down to snow and storm damage rather than an inability to supply gas."

Zarga has sailed from Qatar and will deliver to wherever the price is highest, which is currently the UK.

The ship is one of Qatar's Q-max tankers - the largest LNG tankers in the world - and 344m long (1,128 ft).

The South Hook LNG terminal in Milford Haven has the ability to meet up to 20% of the UK's current gas needs.

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