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Gas flow reversed

December 10, 1998, 08:00 CET

Higher prices in Britain mean that the flow of gas through the UK-Belgian Interconnector is being reversed today.

British gas prices have traditionally fluctuated more than in continental Europe, and its winter rates are now above charges on the continent.

Running from Bacton in eastern England to Zeebrugge on the Belgian coast, the pipeline began supplying UK gas to European buyers on 1 October.

Gas can be sent in both directions, but players in the British gas market say that such an early reversal of the flow is unexpected.

The decision was taken on the basis of demand forecasts from Interconnector users. Transport contracts - including one held by Statoil - permit the gas flow to be reversed if that represents the best solution in market terms.

No indication has been given of the likely duration of these gas deliveries to Britain. Nor are they expected to have negative consequences for supplies in continental Europe.

The Interconnector can carry 20 billion cubic metres of gas annually from the UK to Belgium, and 8.5 billion in the opposite direction.

British Gas owns 40 per cent of the line, with Conoco, Gazprom, BP and Elf holding 10 per cent each and Amerada Hess, National Power, Ruhrgas and Distrigas with five per cent.