British government says gas demand to be met despite low storage

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said on Friday gas demand would be met despite an outage on an interconnector link to Belgium and low storage levels.

"We are aware of the temporary disruption (and) this does not change the overall picture. Gas supplies are not running out," DECC said in a statement.

"Protracted cold weather increases demand but the UK gas market is functioning well and our gas needs are continuing to be met."

The UK's Met Office says that unusually cold weather is expected to last into next week, and perhaps until after Easter.

While DECC said that storage was important, it pointed out that Britain's domestic reserves and its diverse import sources were sufficient to safeguard supply.

"Storage is important to meeting our peak needs, but it has to be judged in proportion to the diversity we have from other sources," DECC said.

"Some countries on mainland Europe have more gas storage capacity than the UK but they don't have the benefit of North Sea supply and our extensive range of import infrastructure," it said.

Britain's stored gas reserves have fallen to record lows during a sustained cold snap this month. Storage levels have been depleted by 90 percent, their lowest levels on record, data from Gas Infrastructure Europe shows.

(Reporting by Henning Gloystein and Oleg Vukmanovic; editing by Jason Neely)