Kwarteng promises energy supply will be maintained as gas prices rise

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said customers would be protected if more small energy companies fight against the wall due to soaring gas prices.

Following discussions with regulator Ofgem, Kwarteng said he could appoint a special administrator to ensure that the power supply is maintained in the event of further market failures.

His assurance came amid new warnings from the food and beverage industry of shortages on shelves within days due to the ripple effects of rising prices.

The increases have resulted in a dramatic reduction in the supply of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is essential for a range of products from poultry and pork products to packaging used in salads.

Mr Kwarteng also met with Tony Will, global managing director of CF Industries, the UK’s largest supplier of CO2, on Sunday.

The company closed two large fertilizer factories in Teesside and Cheshire, where CO2 is produced as a by-product last week, citing the high cost of natural gas.

After their meeting, Kwarteng said they discussed the pressures the company was facing and “explored possible ways to secure vital supplies, including for our food and energy industries.”

However, Food and Drink Federation chief executive Ian Wright has warned that the impact of shortages could be felt in stores within days.

“Towards the end of the coming week and the week after we are going to see some really serious consequences,” he told the BBC.

“I think by the middle of next week – in 10 days – we would see a very, very big blow to poultry production, pork producers and probably more and more into other sectors – so in packaging materials and in bakery and beverages. “

Meanwhile, Kwarteng is expected to speak with representatives from the energy industry and consumer groups on Monday as they grapple with soaring gas prices, with wholesale prices rising. 250% since January.

Four small energy companies have already closed their doors and, following his meeting on Sunday with Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley, Mr Kwarteng said he was assured that if another failure, supplies would continue. without interruption.

“Our priority is to protect consumers. If a supplier of last resort is not possible, a special administrator would be appointed by Ofgem and the government, ”he said in a series of tweets.

“The goal is to continue supplying customers until the business can be saved or customers are transferred to new suppliers.”

The rise in gas prices has been blamed on a number of factors, including a cold winter that depleted stocks, strong demand for liquefied natural gas from Asia and reduced supplies from Russia.

Mr Kwarteng acknowledged that it was “a worrying time for businesses and consumers”, but said he remained confident the energy supply would be maintained.

“Energy security will always be our top priority,” he said. “The UK benefits from a wide range of gas supply sources, both domestic and from reliable import partners such as Norway.

“I am convinced that security of supply can be maintained in a wide range of scenarios.”

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