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UK energy companies seek state support to weather gas crisis

Por Guy Faulconbridge, Susanna Twidale y James Davey

LONDON, Sept 20 (Reuters) – Britain’s largest energy companies have asked the government for support to help cover the cost of serving customers of companies that have failed due to rising wholesale gas prices, Business sources said, as fears of a supply crisis mounted.

Wholesale gas prices have skyrocketed after the reopening of the economy after the confinements by COVID-19, and the high demand for liquefied natural gas in Asia that reduces the supply to Europe, which has caused a lack of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the food industry.

Some British meat processors will run out of CO2 – which is also used to fizz beer, cider and soft drinks – within five days, forcing them to halt production, the industry lobbyist warned. .

The rise in prices has already forced four small energy providers to cease their activity in recent weeks, and the Secretary of State for the Economy, Kwasi Kwarteng, planned to hold more emergency talks with those responsible for energy companies on Monday. , after a meeting held on Saturday.

British ministers are looking at a number of options to help companies such as National Grid, Centrica and EDF, which face rising prices and a flood of customers from bankrupt suppliers.

Options being considered include offering state-backed loans, insuring supplier debt, and creating a “bad bank” to house clients who cannot be taken over without losing money, sources said. of British energy companies.

Britain’s energy regulator, known as Ofgem, will guarantee customers gas and electricity supplies if their energy company goes bankrupt, Kwarteng said.

British wholesale gas benchmark prices have more than tripled this year to record highs due to several factors including low inventory levels, strong demand in Asia, making it difficult to get LNG shipments and maintenance issues.

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