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MSN.com: Gas pipe still shut as cold snap nears

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01.03.2008 03:55

LONDON (Reuters) – How long a key gas supply pipeline will remain closed after an import terminal fire was unclear on Friday as checks on the extent of the damage lasted into the weekend, with freezing weather forecast for next week.

One of two pipelines affected by the Thursday’s fire at Royal Dutch Shell’s terminal in Bacton resumed flows into the UK of the fuel used to heat most homes at midday Friday.

But the Bacton Shell pipeline was still not flowing any gas early on Friday evening, data from National Grid showed, while official weather forecaster the Met Office warned of sub-zero overnight temperatures in many parts of the country, including London, on Monday.

The drop in temperatures on Monday and Tuesday promises to push demand for gas to well above seasonal norms with no indication of when the Bacton Shell supply line may reopen.

“It is still shut down,” the spokeswoman said late on Friday afternoon. “The investigation is ongoing.”

She declined to give any estimate of when the terminal in eastern England might reopen fully after a fire broke out in a waste water treatment area on Thursday evening.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze quickly but Shell had to shut the terminal for safety reasons, cutting off over a tenth of the country’s gas supply.

UK gas market players responded by taking gas out of storage to help heat homes and supply enough fuel for the country’s many gas-fired power stations.

Imports from continental Europe through a pipeline to an unaffected part of the Bacton complex were also stepped up, leaving the network comfortably supplied in mild weather.

Of the five supply lines that enter Britain’s gas network through the vast Bacton complex, only the two running into Shell’s terminal were affected.

Flow data on the network operator’s website showed gas flowing through the SEAL pipeline into the network at a rate of around 7.40 million cubic metres per day from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday after Total restarted its Elgin-Franklin fields in the North Sea in the early hours of Friday.

(Reporting by Daniel Fineren, editing by Anthony Barker)

http://news.uk.msn.com/Article.aspx?cp-documentid=7679107

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