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Centrica warns of uncertain British gas future

HOUSTON, March 6 (UPI) -- The British economy needs to outline plans to enhance energy security as it starts to rely more on imports to meet gas demands, the head of Centrica said.

Sam Laidlaw, chief executive officer at Centrica, told the audience at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston natural gas production from the British waters of the North Sea has declined substantially during the last three years.

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"By 2020 we will be reliant on imports to meet 70 percent of the country's gas needs," he said in his Wednesday address. "So when it comes to security of supply, there is a pressing need for solutions."

Centrica in November signed a 4 1/2 year contract to purchase as much as 3 million tons of liquefied natural gas a year from Qatar. British Energy Minister Michael Fallon said "reliable suppliers like Qatar are vital for our future energy security."

Most of the British imports of LNG come from Qatar. The country relies on natural gas imported through pipelines from Norway and the Netherlands for other imports.

British energy company Cuadrilla Resources is a frontier in shale gas development in the England. Laidlaw said the vast deposits of shale gas in the country could make a significant contribution to the future British energy mix, though it lacks the technology and infrastructure to make full use of those reserves.

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