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5 Mar, 2023 18:56

Key UK-EU gas pipeline out of commission

Shutdown was prompted by an "equipment failure," according to the pipeline operator
Key UK-EU gas pipeline out of commission

Gas exports from Britain to Europe have been suspended over an "equipment failure" on a major pipeline, according to its operator, Interconnector Ltd. The bidirectional pipeline connects the UK to mainland Europe through Belgium.

The operator, which is largely owned by Belgium-based natural gas distributor, Fluxys, posted a notice online late on Saturday confirming that the pipeline will remain inactive until March 8 due to "transmission system unavailability" caused by an unspecified "equipment failure." 

The disruption comes amid a cold snap already sweeping the UK with heavy snow and low temperatures. The bad weather has already affected deliveries of natural gas from Britain to mainland Europe amid growing domestic demand. 

The weather event, or "sudden stratospheric warming," may cause extreme cold in the Northern Hemisphere, bringing temperatures well below seasonal norms and risking a prolongation of winter until the end of March. UK authorities have already issued snow and ice warnings, effective Monday.

The extreme weather threat comes after a mostly mild winter across Europe, which helped both the UK and the EU to largely avoid energy-supply problems stemming from the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the Western sanctions against Moscow, which have disrupted the steady supply of Russian gas to the continent. The bad weather might affect not only the UK but the mainland as well, with heavy snow and abnormally low temperatures forecast in Germany and Poland, and into southeastern and northeastern Europe.