UK Floods 2013/14

February 2014 has witnessed heavy rain, gales and floods across the UK. It has also been one of the wettest winters on record. This type of weather can cause homeowners endless problems and has done so in many areas, particularly south west England and south Wales, in the winter of 2013-2014.

There has been extra pressure on household pipes and central heating systems due to the heavy rainfall. The main problems are flooding due to burst pipes. Surface water and extremely wet soil from rain can cause the ground to shift. This can put stress on household pipes which can cause them to crack and collapse. By having your pipes and heating oil system maintained and inspected regularly by an OFTEC / GasSafe qualified engineer, you can avoid these problems.

Action which can be taken by home owners

It is advisable to take preventative action by insulating the fuel pipes that connect the boiler to the oil storage tank. This will stop them from freezing and then breaking. Ensure that your home is protected from potential floods as unexpected water can cause a host of problems and can prove costly. For Heating Oil users, it is important to ensure that your oil tank is securely fastened and equipped with a shut off valve in case of high water and floods. Locate your oil tank where it is above any potential flood level and sheltered from storm force winds. Contact your local council for more information on how likely floods will be in your area and find out what options are available to protect your home.

Changes in temperature, precipitation, sea level, and the frequency and severity of extreme events will likely affect how much energy is produced, delivered, and consumed in the United Kingdom. A large portion of UK energy infrastructure is located in off-shore areas and therefore sensitive to sea level rises and storm surges. Changes in the frequency and severity of storms and other extreme events may also damage energy infrastructure.

Disruptions caused by severe weather

Disruptions to energy supply due to compromised infrastructure can affect many activities, depending on the destination and final use of the fuel. Disruptions in the supply of oil would affect the production of transportation fuels. Disruptions in natural gas supply could affect electricity generation, residential and commercial heating, and industrial processes. There are many examples of at risk energy infrastructure in the UK.

The North Sea

The North Sea oil and gas industry is set to lose hundreds of millions of pounds a year as global warming threatens to unleash increasingly frequent and intense storms, producing bigger waves that could damage oil rig platforms and make it harder for staff to do their jobs. A rise in sea levels and more intense storms and hurricanes in coastal areas could increase the risk of energy supply disruptions. The stormier weather could possibly increase of the costs of the North Sea oil and gas industry, in the form of damage, lost production and, most of all, the construction costs to strengthen the platforms.

On-shore, flooding and intense storms can damage power lines and electricity distribution equipment. These events may also delay repair and maintenance work. Electricity outages can have serious impacts on other energy systems as well. For example, oil and gas pipeline disruptions following extreme weather events are often caused by power outages rather than physical damage to the infrastructure.