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UK has enough gas import capacity to 2020 -BG Group
* UK gas import infrastructure sufficient for next decade
* Govt could help secure long-term gas contracts -Hendry
By Kwok W. Wan
LONDON, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Britain has enough pipeline and liquefied natural gas (LNG) import infrastructure to satisfy UK gas demand until 2020, energy firm BG Group (BG.L) said on Wednesday.
"Over the past five years, the UK's gas importation infrastructure has more than tripled and it already has capacity to meet likely UK demand for the rest of the decade," Chief Financial Officer Ashley Almanza said at the CBI energy conference in London.
In 2004, Britain switched to being a net importer of gas from a net exporter, creating concerns over security of supply. This was highlighted by the Russian gas crisis two winters ago and an unexpected outage in Norwegian supply during an extreme cold snap last winter.
But despite supply shocks, British gas prices have remained relatively stable due to new import infrastructure, Almanza said.
"The UK has enjoyed low and progressively less volatile gas prices in recent years. The reasons for this are reasonably clear and simple: timely investment in infrastructure and diverse sources of supply," Almanza said.
"This experience, I believe, provides a powerful lesson for the future."
The increase in Britain's importation capacity includes the commissioning of South Hook and Dragon liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals in south Wales last year. BG owns 50 percent of Dragon LNG as well as North Sea oil and gas assets.
At the same conference, Britain's energy minister Charles Hendry said the government would help companies sign long-term gas supply contracts with foreign suppliers to ensure security.
"For power generators, we think for them to sign up to long-term contracts gives them more security of supply," Hendry said at the sidelines of the conference.
"If there are international agreements to be reached then people can expect ministers to be a lot more active to secure that. But the government shouldn't determine what should be done, consumers have to decide what is best for them." (Reporting by Kwok W. Wan; editing by Alison Birrane)
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