Licences for the Rough Field were given in 1964. Gas was brought ashore to Easington in 1975. In 1980 BG Corporation (which became British Gas plc in 1986 following privatisation) purchased the Rough field with one third of reserves depleted with the idea of converting the field into a gas storage facility after noticing seasonal trends in the supply and demand of gas in the UK. In 1983 BG Corporation made the final decision to convert Rough into a natural gas facility. This would be the largest gas storage facility built in the UK continental shelf (and still is today). In 1985 the Rough storage facility became operational.
The break up of BG Corporation in 1997 into BG Group and Centrica meant that BG Storage was created as a standalone business due to competition reasons. In 2001, BG Storage sold the Rough Facility to Dynegy. In 2002, Centrica bought the plant back from Dynergy for £304m during its period of near-bankruptcy. The purchase of Rough led to the Competition Commission requesting certain undertakings being put in place due to Centricas control of the Morecambe Bay gas fields which at the time were providing 10-15% of the UK's gas supply. In 2003 Centrica provided DECC with a set of undertakings and Centrica Storage Ltd (a wholly owned subsidiary of Centrica Plc) was formed.
Centrica Storage Ltd still operates the Rough facility in accordance with the undertakings.
The facility consists of a partially depleted gas field (the Rough field) in the Southern North Sea, approximately 18 miles off the east coast of Yorkshire, together with an onshore gas processing terminal at Easington, approximately 27 miles south east of Hull.
The Rough facility is operated by Centrica Storage Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Centrica. Nearly 200 staff and contractors are employed within the operation, both onshore and offshore. It has a storage capacity of 3.31 billion cubic metres which is approximately 70% of the UK's gas storage capacity (approximately 9 days supply). Rough can supply 10% of the UK's peak gas demand and as such is an important part of the UK's gas infrastructure. Operational problems lead to a partial shutdown in 2016, requiring increased imports during winter.
The Rough facility is currently the only depleted UK offshore gas field reservoir that is used for gas storage and retrieval. Several projects have been developed to use other depleted offshore fields but none have proved to be economically viable. Two examples are the Baird and the Deborah Gas Storage projects.