LONDON Dec 4 (Reuters) - Britain's gas imports from Belgium surged to a record at the start of the winter season in October and November, the operator of the gas link said, compensating for lower supplies of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Qatar.
The UK imported a net 8,600 gigawatt hours (GWh) of gas from Belgium, equivalent to about 812 mcm, in the two months, versus a previous October-November record in 2004 of 6,000 GWh, the company said.
"The current gas year, commencing 1 October, has seen record UK imports through the Interconnector pipeline," Interconnector UK Ltd. said in a statement.
At the same time, Qatar, the UK's biggest supplier of LNG, has been diverting shipments away from Britain to higher-paying markets in Asia, and maintenance outages further reduced output at some Qatari export plants in September and October.
"The start of December has seen continuing high UK import rates and the usual speculation in the market about both the winter weather to come and the UK supply situation," the pipeline operator said.
Imports via the Britain-Belgium interconnector were at 29 mcm/day on Tuesday, flow data on the pipeline operator's website showed.
Britain increasingly depends on seaborne gas imports to offset falling output from mature North Sea fields, especially during peak demand winter months.
A cut in LNG imports, however, has increased demand for gas through the sub-sea interconnector with Belgium.
Britain imports most of its gas from Norway via two sub-sea pipelines and receives some gas via a link with the Netherlands. (Reporting by Oleg Vukmanovic; editing by Jane Baird)