Page last updated at 15:27 GMT, Monday, 17 November 2008

Biggest-ever gas delivery arrives

Al Khuwair tanker
It will take several hours to unload the Al Khuwair tanker

The biggest ever delivery of liquefied natural gas (LNG) has arrived at a newly-expanded terminal in Kent.

Centrica delivered the cargo of 50 million therms of LNG to National Grid's Isle of Grain facility on Monday on the Al Khuwair super tanker.

The 330 metre vessel is the first Q-Flex super tanker to arrive in the UK and its cargo is enough to supply 4.5m customers for a week in winter.

National Grid said LNG was becoming an ever-more important source of UK gas.

With North Sea gas supplies dwindling, the country will need to import 40% of its gas demand this year, rising to 50% by 2010.

It is a huge vessel and we are really proud to have hit here to allow us to commission the terminal.
Simon Fairman

The Al Khuwair's cargo will be pumped down cooled pipes into one of three new storage tanks, each the size of the Royal Albert Hall.

They were built as the second phase of development on the Isle of Grain.

Terminal Manager Simon Fairman said: "Facilities like this are absolutely essential for us in the UK to have security of supply and to be able to access markets around the world.

"It has taken us over three years and 355m to build this facility.

"Today is the exciting bit for us - bringing the cargo in.

Simon Fairman on the delivery's importance. Footage courtesy of National Grid.

"It is a huge vessel and we are really proud to have it here to allow us to commission the terminal."

The expanded terminal is currently capable of supplying 12% of the UK's gas demand.

Phase one of the development, commissioned in 2005, was a 130m conversion of an existing storage facility.

Phase three, which began construction in July 2007, includes another giant tank with a second jetty and will cost 310m.

When it is finished in 2010, Grain's capacity will be the equivalent of about 20% of the UK's gas demand.

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