UK lights to stay on if Strait of Hormuz closes-grid

LONDON, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Britain's grid operator said the lights would stay on in the UK in the event of the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, a key shipping route for liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the largest exporter Qatar which supplies nearly all of Britain's LNG.

Iranian politicians and officials have often said Iran could block the strait - the neck of the Gulf through which 40 percent of the world's seaborne oil exports passes - in response to sanctions or military action by the United States and its allies intended to stop Tehran developing a nuclear programme.

Even if a closure of the Middle Eastern shipping path occurred, Britain would be able to assure security of energy supply and keep the lights on, National Grid's market operation director, Chris Train, said at a conference on Friday.

"Clearly we talk to the security services around the likelihood of a threat and look at scenarios if it closed," Train said.

He added that Britain's current electricity market was favouring coal over gas burn, meaning a drop in LNG supply would not threaten power production.

Britain, Europe's largest gas consumer, has increased its reliance on gas imports in recent years as domestic production declines and demand continues to rise.

Middle Eastern producer Qatar has played a growing role in supplying Britain with gas as more import terminals have opened.

All LNG shipments from Qatar, the world's biggest LNG exporter, sail through the Strait of Hormuz.

(Reporting by Karolin Schaps; editing by James Jukwey)

(( 542 6622)(Reuters Messaging: