Production licences for the Rough field were given in 1964, and gas was first brought ashore to Easington gas processing terminal 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 intention of converting the field into a gas storage facility to manage 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 storage facility which became operational in 1985 as the largest gas storage facility built in the UK continental shelf.
The break-up of BG Corporation in 1997 into BG Group and Centrica meant that BG Storage was created as a standalone business, for 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 Centrica's 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 southeast 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 had a storage capacity of 3.31 billion cubic metres which was approximately 70% of the UK's gas storage capacity (approximately nine days' supply). Rough could supply 10% of the UK's peak gas demand and thus was an important part of the UK's gas infrastructure. Operational problems lead to a partial shutdown in 2016, requiring increased imports during that winter.
At the time of the announcement of the rundown of the facility in June 2017, Rough was the only depleted UK offshore gas field reservoir used for gas storage and retrieval. Several projects have been proposed to use other depleted offshore fields but none have proved to be economically viable; two examples are the Baird and Deborah gas storage projects.
- "Cessation of Storage Operations at Rough". www.centrica.com. 20 June 2017. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
- Ward, Andrew (20 June 2017). "Centrica to close UK's largest gas storage site". Financial Times. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
- Vaughan, Adam (20 June 2017). "Closure of UK's largest gas storage site 'could mean volatile prices'". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
- "Rough to permanently close after safety concerns - BeondBeond". beondgroup.com. 20 June 2017. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
- Centrica Storage - Rough Guide
- Channel 4 films the terminal in November 2005
- Possible carbon capture in nearby gas fields under the North Sea