By Marcus Leach

Centrica plc, the parent company of British Gas, has signed a strategic agreement with Statoil ASA for the supply of 50 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas to the UK.

The 10 year, NBP-linked gas supply contract begins in 2015 and secures sufficient gas to meet around five per cent of total UK annual demand, enough for 3.5 million homes.

With Britain currently importing around 50 per cent of its gas requirements, the announcement underlines the strategic importance of the Norwegian relationship to UK energy security.

"I warmly welcome this announcement, which underlines the strength and depth of the partnership that the UK and Norway enjoy," Prime Minister David Cameron said.

"Gas plays a central role in powering our economy, and will continue to do so for decades to come. Today's agreement will help to ensure the continued security and competitiveness of gas supplies to Britain, from a trusted and reliable neighbour."

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