The BBL, the pipeline through which gas is transported from Balgzand in the Netherlands to Bacton in England, has been operating continuously at nearly maximum capacity since mid-November in order to be able to supply England with sufficient gas. The BBL is currently transporting an average of around 1.5 million m3 to 1.6 million m3 of gas per hour to England, which currently represents 8% of England's total demand for gas.
Prolonged cold weather in Europe means that the demand for gas is high. The gas roundabout of North-West Europe, of which the BBL is an important component, is going flat out. In England, which is dependent on imports for half of its gas requirements, National Grid issued three Gas Balancing Alerts due to concerns that there would be insufficient gas supplies. As a result of the high demand, many industrial customers in England saw their supplies interrupted in order to safeguard gas supplies to domestic customers. Supply, demand and transport are now closely monitored by the National Grid and the English authorities so that they can intervene if necessary. At the request of the National Grid and the English authorities, the BBL Company has confirmed that the maximum transport capacity through the BBL can be used.
BBL is increasing transport capacity to England for winter 2010/2011 BBL's role will become increasingly important in the future. Due to the heavy demand for transport capacity, in autumn 2010 the BBL will be expanded by the installation of a fourth compressor that can transport another 3.2 billion m3 of gas per year to England. In this way the BBL Company is making an important contribution towards the total transport capacity to England.