National Grid increases exercising plans amid energy shortage
UK’s National Grid has released details of this year’s emergency gas supply exercise. The aim of Exercise Degree is to ensure that the national gas industry is ‘prepared and able to meet its obligations in the event of a Network Gas Supply Emergency (NGSE)’, such as a gas supply shortage, according to a National Grid briefing document.
Attention has been drawn to the fact that the annual exercise will take place over four days this year, compared to two previously. Indeed, the exercise will be taking place during a global situation where energy supply is a leading concern, particularly following the reduction of Russian gas imports into Europe. Although, the National Grid has noted that the plans for this year’s exercise were drawn up in January 2022.
Recently, we have seen the European Union propose a voluntary reduction of natural gas usage by 15% this winter. “The purpose of the gas demand reduction is to make savings for this winter, in order to prepare for possible disruptions of gas supplies from Russia,” said the EU Council in a press release. Member states that are not connected to other member states’ gas network are expected to be exempted from the reductions. Importantly, the release also notes that the member states agreed to prioritize measures that do not affect “essential services for the functioning of society like critical entities, healthcare and defence.”
In other regions around the world, we have also seen strategies to reduce energy consumption take place. In South Africa we have seen load shedding implemented at relatively short notice, as a large-scale utility provider was experiencing breakdowns at two power generation facilities. Meanwhile, rising energy prices have resulted in energy rationing policies in Kosovo, where consumers will have access to six hours of power before a two-hour break in supply. Power-saving initiatives are also in place in China, after a heatwave caused a spike in energy usage and subsequent shortages.
In any of these environments, each caused by a different threat, it is essential that organizations have a BC plan in place for losing power to priority products or services.
The importance of exercises in the current environment
As such, in this environment, it is even more important that exercises to prepare for energy shortages are taking place, even if those countries holding the exercise are not expecting to experience a shortage themselves.
According to the briefing document, one of the objectives of Exercise Degree is to test the management of such an energy shortage (gas in this case), and the implementation of warning notices and communication channels. The four days of the exercise are expected to cover emerging issues, pre-emergency, emergency and restoration, respectively. After the exercise, a hot debrief will take place to assess how the outcomes and what lessons can be learned.
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