August 29, 2013 / 1:10 PM / 4 years ago

UK gas imports rise to record high in first half of 2013

* H1 imports rise to 28.3 bcm, up 9 pct on 2012

* Pipelines provide 81 pct of imports

* LNG imports fall 2.5 bcm year on year

LONDON, Aug 29 (Reuters) - British gas imports rose to a record high in the first half of 2013, government data showed, as Britain’s domestic gas reserves dwindle and its dependence grows on supply from abroad.

The first six months also included a long and cold winter, during which Britain was close to running out of stored gas, which also forced it to increase imports.

Cumulative gas imports rose to 28.3 billion cubic metres (bcm) in the first half, up 9 percent from the previous year and the highest first-half gas import levels ever seen, according to government data published on Thursday.

The majority, 81 percent, of imported gas was pumped through pipelines from Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands, and the remainder was shipped on liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers.

Total LNG supply over the first quarter fell by 2.5 bcm to 5.5 bcm year on year, while pipeline supply rose 5 bcm to 22.9 bcm.

Britain has been less popular as a destination for LNG shipments than Asia countries, where buyers pay hefty premiums over European prices.

Meanwhile, Britain’s own gross gas production fell 9 percent to 225.2 bcm in the first half from the first half of 2012.

The British government is now looking to the development of onshore shale gas deposits to help stem the decline in production from conventional fields.

The government doubled its estimate of shale gas resources in the north of England in June to 1,300 trillion cubic feet and last month unveiled generous tax breaks for shale gas producers. (Reporting by Karolin Schaps; editing by Jane Baird)

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