UK's winter gas at risk from shaky Norway exports


* Norway outages collide with start of heating season

* Qatari LNG supplies to UK also down sharply

* UK spot gas prices up 10 pct since beginning of Oct.

By Henning Gloystein

LONDON, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Britain's winter gas supply mayhit a crunch in a cold snap after volatile imports from Norwaydue to technical problems compound variable shipments fromQatar.

Norway's exports have left Britain's gas system short at thebeginning of the winter season, which started on Oct. 1, andpushed up prices by almost 10 percent since the beginning of themonth.

"Technical flaws are not really uncommon, but the exporttroubles at the beginning of the winter season highlight justhow tight Britain's gas system is. Imagine what will happen ifwe have similar outages during a real cold snap," one gas tradersaid.

Norwegian gas exports have suffered in recent weeks asoutages at gas processing plants serving the massive Ormen Langefield have interrupted supplies following maintenance work.

Although traders say that such outages are fairly commonafter prolonged work at large gas fields, they warned that thetight system bodes ill for times when demand really shoots upduring harsh cold later, especially should Qatari supplies ofliquefied natural gas (LNG) not pick up soon.

"Winter starts with a bang ... a power outage at theNorwegian gas-processing plant at Kolsness showed how importantNorwegian gas has become for the UK market," Barclays Capitalsaid in a research note this week.

National Grid data shows that gas demand in Britain hasrisen from around 20 to 30 percent below the seasonal normduring most of this year to just 5 to 10 percent below averagesince the beginning of the month.

During the low demand summer period the system was alreadytight, and traders are now concerned what might happen now thatdemand is up but imports from Norway and Qatar are down.

<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ CHART-NBP spot gas prices: CHART-NBP gas price forecast: CHART-UK gas demand outlook: TABLE-LNG tankers heading for UK: UK gas supply prey to Qatar strategy: UK overseas gas imports to surge to $11 bln: ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>

British spot gas prices have already risen from under 59pence per therm to over 64 pence since the beginning of October,which market the start of the new gas year.

This is their highest level since a cold snap across Europeinterrupted Russian gas exports last February and briefly sentgas prices to almost 100 pence a therm.

Analysts also said that a sharp drop in LNG supplies to theUK, on which Britain increasingly depends to replace its owndwindling production, were a concern.

"The last (LNG) cargo seen to both South Hook and Isle ofGrain was last Monday and there are currently no new cargosobserved heading for UK so far in October. We expect to seecontinuous low send outs from both terminals throughoutOctober," analysts at Thomson Reuters Point Carbon said.

BarCap said that the tight LNG market would add "evengreater stress on pipeline gas," and that there were limits tothe volumes increases Norway would be capable of sending toBritain, "skewing price risks to the upside."

(Reporting by Henning Gloystein, editing by William Hardy)

((henning.gloystein@thomsonreuters.com)(+44)(0)(207 5426659)(Reuters Messaging:henning.gloystein.reuters.com@reuters.net))