Energy imports into the UK rose by 2.3% last year compared to 2012, according to the latest quarterly statistics issued by the UK Department of Energy yesterday.
And for the first time since 1984 – the year of the UK coal miners’ strike – the UK became a net importer of petroleum products in 2013 – largely due to the closure of the Coryton Refinery in July 2012 and the closure of the Ineos petro-chem plant at Grangemouth due to an industrial dispute.
And analysts say the country is likely to stay dependent on overseas oil as its refineries close.
Britain exported 26.2 million tonnes of products such as diesel, kerosene and jet fuel from its refineries last year, but imported 28.2 million tonnes, due to the closure of two major oil processing plants.
“The UK was a net importer of petroleum products in 2013 for the first time since 1984, the year of the miners’ strike,” the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said in its annual report.
Coryton oil refinery in Essex closed for good in the second half of 2012 while Grangemouth refinery on the Firth of Forth shut for several weeks from October 2013.
The loss of these plants contributed to a 6% decrease in refinery production, DECC said, and industry analysts expect UK imports of oil products to rise as more refineries shut due to competition from other regions.
“The UK could become a bigger net importer of petroleum products because there are a lot of refineries at risk of shutting down as refining margins have been very weak,” said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects.
Coal still king as main electricity generator
Meanwhile, gas prices remained high in 2013, such that the commercial attractiveness of gas for electricity generation continued to be weak in 2013.
Nuclear’s share of electricity generation was unchanged, despite a slight increase in generation. Gas accounted for 27% of electricity supplied in 2013, with coal accounting for 36% and nuclear 20%
Electricity generated from renewable sources in the UK in 2013 increased by 30% on a year earlier, and accounted for 14.9% of total UK electricity generation.
Offshore wind generation increased by 50% and onshore wind increased by 40% Both the offshore and onshore wind load factors exceeded or equalled that of gas (27.9%).
Pictured is Ineos’ Grangemouth refinery-production halted by industrial action