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By Susanna Twidale
LONDON (Reuters) - Centrica's Rough gas storage site off England's east coast could reopen this winter, the British energy company said on Thursday.
Countries across Europe are seeking to build gas stocks ahead of winter to prepare for expected disruptions to supply of Russian gas, but Britain has had very little storage capacity since Rough's closure in 2018.
Centrica is in discussions with the government and is carrying out the necessary engineering work to enable the site to reopen, CEO Chris O'Shea said on a results call.
O'Shea said that Centrica is seeking a regulatory framework from the government to enable the site to reopen and that the company would be prepared to invest about 2 billion pounds ($2.4 billion) in the project.
If successful, the site would build up capacity gradually and could eventually be used to store hydrogen.
Having significant gas in storage gives countries protection from unexpected supply issues and helps to guard against price spikes.
The Rough site previously provided about 70% of Britain’s gas storage capacity. Had the site been open last winter, it could have saved households about 100 pounds ($121.82) on their annual energy bills, O'Shea said.
A cap on British household energy bills rose by 54% in April because of a rapid rise in wholesale gas prices. The price cap is expected to rise by a further 64% in October.
($1 = 0.8208 pounds)
(Reporting by Susanna Twidale; Editing by Jason Neely and David Goodman)