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Bacton terminal marks 50 years of supplying UK's gas

Bacton gas terminal was formally opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in June 1969, nearly a year after it began operating. Picture: Archant library

Bacton gas terminal was formally opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in June 1969, nearly a year after it began operating. Picture: Archant library

Archant

Norfolk's Bacton gas terminal is this week marking a half century of keeping UK homes warm.

Bacton gas terminal was formally opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in June 1969, nearly a year after it began operating. Picture: Archant libraryBacton gas terminal was formally opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in June 1969, nearly a year after it began operating. Picture: Archant library

Around a third of the country’s gas needs flow through the terminal on the north Norfolk coast, with more than 100 million cubic metres a day coming ashore during peak winter months.

And as the UK moves towards a low-carbon future, its owner National Grid says it is now looking at how the facility could play a role in moving pure hydrogen, gas blends and renewable biogas around the country.

When the first gas started flowing in July 1968, it opened the door to North Sea gas and supplies from continental Europe which have allowed the UK to develop a transmission network that has been the backbone of the country’s energy system for half a century.

Phil Sheppard, National Grid’s director of gas transmission, said: ‘This is a landmark month for us. Fifty years ago, Bacton opened to start taking the first flows from the North Sea gas fields as Britain started the process of converting from manufactured ‘town’ gas to natural gas.

Bacton gas terminal was formally opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in June 1969, nearly a year after it began operating. Picture: Archant libraryBacton gas terminal was formally opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in June 1969, nearly a year after it began operating. Picture: Archant library

He added: “Gas flowing through Bacton has played an important role in keeping homes warm and production lines running over the past 50 years. North Sea gas will continue to support our heating and economy for many years to come.”

When the first gas arrived at Bacton in 1968, it was fed into a 36-inch diameter gas pipeline which ran 140 miles from the coast to Rugby, where it fed into the main national transmission system.

At the time, homes and businesses were being converted to natural gas – a process that would take until 1977, the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, to complete. Conversion of domestic cookers and other appliances was needed because ‘pure’ North Sea gas had a higher energy value than manufactured town gas, which was derived from coal.

Since then it has grown to 180 acres and adjoins terminals operated by Perenco and Shell. The treated gas from these terminals flows into the National Grid facility and then at a pressure of 70 bar - more than 40 times that of a car tyre - into the national network.

Bacton gas terminal was formally opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in June 1969, nearly a year after it began operating. Picture: Archant libraryBacton gas terminal was formally opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in June 1969, nearly a year after it began operating. Picture: Archant library

Two interconnectors also come ashore at Bacton, one which can send gas to and receive gas from Zeebrugge in Belgium and second which can receive gas from the Netherlands via the Balgzand Bacton Line pipeline.

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