It comes amid ongoing supply chain issues, with Covid and Brexit accused of reporting empty shelves in the UK
Image: Getty Images)
Britain will not run out of energy this winter despite growing concerns about soaring wholesale prices, the business secretary insisted.
Tory Kwasi Kwarteng has sought to allay fears over soaring gas prices, which may disrupt the UK food supply.
He said the government “does not expect supply emergencies this winter” as it held urgent talks with energy suppliers and operators on Saturday.
It comes amid ongoing supply chain issues, with Covid and Brexit being accused of reporting empty shelves in the UK.
OGUK, which represents the country’s offshore oil and gas industry, said wholesale gas prices had jumped 250% since January with a 70% increase since August alone.
Strong global demand, maintenance issues, and declining solar and wind power generation have been blamed for the increase.
Russia has also been accused of rigging prices to undermine the UK and EU’s recovery from the pandemic.
Forty MEPs called on the European Commission to launch an urgent investigation into “a possible deliberate manipulation of the market” by Gazprom, the Russian public energy company.
Gazprom declared that it supplied gas to its customers in full compliance with existing contracts.
Former Ofgem boss Dermot Nolan has warned Britain could face high energy prices for the rest of the year.
He blamed depleted stocks following a cold winter last year, reduced supply from Russia and increased demand for liquefied natural gas from the Far East.
He told the Today show: “What can be done in the very short term is not obvious to me. Britain has relatively diverse secure gas sources, so I think the lights will stay on.
“But I am concerned that it is likely, in my opinion, that high gas and electricity prices will continue over the next three to four months.
“It is very difficult to see what the government can do directly in this regard.”
Two fertilizer factories in Teesside and Cheshire have been forced to close following the sudden increase, raising alarms among meat producers who need the carbon dioxide produced by these factories.
British Meat Processors Association chief executive Nick Allen said CO2 is essential both for the humane slaughter of livestock and for extending the shelf life of products.
He told Today: âIf we don’t have the CO2 supplies on the packaging side, it reduces the shelf life of products put on the shelves at a time when we are really struggling with all the transportation issues.
âIt was a huge shock, it happened so quickly. I think everyone in the industry is outraged that these fertilizer factories can shut down without any warning and suddenly take something that is so essential to the chain. food supply out of flow just like that.
“We really need the government to step in now and do something.”
Mr Kwarteng met with senior executives from Ofgem, Centrica, National Grid, Energy UK, Octopus, Ovo, SSE, EDF, ScottishPower, Shell Energy, E.ON, Bulb and SGN on Saturday.
He tweeted: “Britain has a diverse range of gas supply sources, with sufficient capacity to more than meet demand.
“We don’t expect supply emergencies this winter.”
âEnergy security is a top priority. We work closely with @ofgem and gas operators to monitor supply and demand.
Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband said the government must provide “a secure and affordable energy supply to businesses and families.”
“It is a fundamental failure of the government’s long-term planning over the past decade that we are so exposed and vulnerable as a country and it is businesses and consumers who are paying the price,” he said. -he declares.
âIf we had invested on a sufficient scale in diverse, secure and carbon-free energy supplies and if we had made energy efficiency a much higher priority, we would not be in such a precarious position.
“Ministers must recognize the severity of the cost of living crisis families are currently facing due to rising energy prices and their unfair tax hikes and reverse the cut in universal credit.”