British utility company Centrica has reopened the Rough gas storage facility in the North Sea after a five-year hiatus to boost the country’s energy supply ahead of winter.

The facility, which closed in 2017, has been reopened after undergoing ‘significant’ engineering upgrades over the summer and commissioning in early autumn.

Centrica noted that the facility off the Yorkshire coast would operate at only 20% of its previous capacity.

It can store up to 30 billion cubic feet of gas this winter, the company added.

Countries in Europe have been ramping up their energy storage after Russia decided to reduce energy supplies to the region in retaliation to sanctions imposed on it over the war in Ukraine.

Centrica CEO Chris O’Shea said: “In the short term, we think Rough can help our energy system by storing natural gas when there is a surplus and producing this gas when the country needs it during cold snaps and peak demand.

“Rough is not a silver bullet for energy security, but it is a key part of a range of steps which can be taken to help the UK this winter.”

Anticipating the possible energy crunch in winter, Centrica secured a gas storage license for Rough in July this year.

In June, the company signed a deal with Equinor to supply additional gas to the UK over the next three winters.

As per the deal, the Norwegian energy giant will supply an additional one billion cubic metres of gas per year to Centrica.

Britain’s Business and Energy Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The reopening of the Rough gas storage facility ahead of the winter will further strengthen the UK’s energy resilience and make us less susceptible to Putin’s manipulation of global gas supplies.”