Great Britain

Energy crisis – live: Government strikes deal to restart CO2 production as Ofgem orders firms to pay tariff

'We’re focused on helping the vulnerable' - Kwarteng on energy crisis

The government has reached a deal with American firm CF Industries to restart carbon dioxide production at its UK plants in Cheshire and Teesside.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng met with the company over the weekend, after it had stopped work at its plants following a spike in global gas prices.

The halt in production has led to a food production crisis, as CO2 is used widely in food processing, from packaging meat and other foodstuffs to providing the carbonation in beer and other fizzy drinks.

It comes as the government’s cap on energy prices looks set to rise by a further £178 per year from April 2022 as gas prices soar, according to modelling from researchers at a market intelligence agency.

Cornwall Insight’s researchers expect the price cap will be raised to £1,455 for the six months from the beginning of April next year.

This would be a 14 per cent rise from the already record-breaking £1,277 that customers will pay between October and April, and up £317 from current levels.

Meanwhile, Ofgem has ordered five energy suppliers to pay the money they owe into a government renewable energy scheme.

The Feed In Tariff was due last Friday, and Colorado Energy, Igloo Energy, Neon Reef Energy, Whoop Energy and Symbio Energy all risk facing fines or losing their licence if they fail to make their payments.

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Good morning and welcome to our live coverage as gas prices hit record highs. We’ll be bringing you the latest news and updates throughout the day.

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Gas price cap will stay, Kwarteng and Ofgem insist

Energy companies and the government agreed the energy price cap must "remain in place" during crunch talks to find a solution to record gas costs.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng held a crisis meeting with the industry before announcing to the Commons that ministers would not be bailing out energy firms and that the energy price cap would be "staying".

In a joint statement issued late on Monday evening, Mr Kwarteng and Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley confirmed they had taken a unified position over the price ceiling continuing.

"Central to any next steps is our clear and agreed position that the energy price cap will remain in place," they said.

Mr Kwarteng had earlier told MPs the cap saves 15 million households up to £100 a year, adding: "It's not going anywhere."

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Britain risks blackouts for industry if harsh winter strikes Europe

A harsh winter could force the UK to restrict business’ energy supplies shutting down factories in a throw-back to the three-day week of the 1970s, according to sector experts.

The UK’s gas storage would run low within weeks if there was a Europe-wide supply crunch triggered by a severe winter, according to academics and consultants who have advised the UK on energy security and market capacity.

Our economics editor Anna Isaac and business correspondent Ben Chapman have the full story:

Depleted gas stores would be quickly drained if the UK and neighbours face extreme cold

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‘It could be a very difficult winter,’ Kwasi Kwarteng admits

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng admitted “it could be a very difficult winter” when asked about the worries for families who may be faced with choosing between heating their homes and putting food on the table due to rising National Insurance, soaring fuel costs and a cut to Universal Credit.

“It’s a difficult situation, it could be a very difficult winter,” he told BBC Breakfast.

He added: “You’re right to mention the National Insurance price tax rise, but of course that kicks in in April, so it’s not strictly a winter issue.

“You’re also right to say that we face a global energy spike in terms of prices. But I’ve said that there are mechanisms in place now to protect consumers, I’ve been very clear that the energy price cap is staying even though some energy companies I read today are asking for it to be removed, I’ve been very clear that that’s staying, so we’re protecting customers there.

“We’ve got the warm home discount, we’ve got winter fuel payments, which are again focused on the most vulnerable customers.”

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Business secretary refuses to rule out energy price cap rising again in April

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng refused to rule out the energy price cap rising in April next year.

Asked whether the cap could rise again once the current period expires, he told BBC Breakfast: "There are always fears that the price cap may go up, but, of course, it can also go down.

"We don't know, frankly, what the gas price is going to be in six months' time."

He added: "I'd love to be able to inform you six months ahead of time what the energy prices will be.

"All I'm saying is that we are going to have a cap, we're not going to go back to the world where a few...companies essentially can set whatever fees they want, whatever prices they want. That's not something that I want to see again."

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Shoppers may notice products missing from shelves ‘in about 10 days’, says food and drink boss

Shoppers may notice products are missing from supermarket shelves "in about 10 days", the chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation has said.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Ian Wright described the potential shortages of CO2 supply as "a real crisis" and said "the just-in-time system which underpins both supermarkets and hospitality industry is under the most strain it has ever been in the 40 years it has been there".

He said poultry production will begin to erode very seriously by the end of this week, with the same being true of pig production and the making of bakery goods. Meat packaging is probably only about a week behind, he added.

He said: "We probably have about 10 days before this gets to the point where consumers, shoppers and diners notice that those products are not available."

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Kwasi Kwarteng hopes to have ‘very clear plan’ to get CO2 production up and running this week

The business secretary said he hoped to have a “very clear plan” to get CO2 production back up and running this week.

Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky News he was “confident” of a resolution and “it’s pretty imminent”, adding the CO2 situation was “critical”.

He said: “I’m very confident and hopeful that we can sort it out by the end of the week.”

Mr Kwarteng said: “I think we have to have a diversity of sources of carbon dioxide there. CF isn’t the only company that manufactures carbon dioxide.

“They have a big share of market, I said they weren’t the only one. But they are ... a big part of the carbon dioxide market.”

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Not every energy company can expect government bailout, says Kwarteng

The business secretary has said not every energy company can expect a government bailout.

Speaking on Times Radio, Kwasi Kwarteng said: “I think one of the things I’ve established as a principle is that I don’t believe taxpayers’ money should be funnelled into companies that have been badly run.

“So ... not every company in the sector can expect the government bailouts. I’ve been very clear about that.”

He added: “The way that markets work is the badly-run companies often go out of business, that’s a natural process.”

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Propping up UK’s biggest CO2 supplier would only ever be temporary, says Kwarteng

Propping up the UK’s biggest supplier of CO2 would only ever be on a temporary basis, the business secretary has said.

Kwasi Kwarteng told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme any assistance was still being discussed after he spoke to the chief executive of CF Industries twice in the last two days.

But he said: “Time is of the essence, and that’s why I spoke to the CEO, speaking to him twice in the last two days, and we’re hopeful that we can get something sorted today and get the production up and running in the next few days.”

Mr Kwarteng said “it will come at some cost... it may come at some cost, we’re still hammering out details, we’re still looking at a plan”.

But he added: “I have to say if there is support provided, that will be on a temporary basis, that’s not something that we want to do indefinitely.”

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Some families will have to choose between eating and heating homes, business secretary admits

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng admitted there would be families this winter who would have to choose between eating and heating their homes.

Mr Kwarteng was appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain when host Susanna Reid told him families would face “the choice between heating their homes and staying warm or eating, parents who may forego meals in order to feed their kids”.

She said: “You need to be able to offer them some hope.”

The business secretary replied: “You’re right, and that’s why I’m very keen to keep the warm home discount and also there are other winter fuel payments that we’re looking at.”

Asked whether he had asked chancellor Rishi Sunak to raise the warm home discount, he said: “We have discussions about the budget, and you will see what happens in the budget. I can’t possibly pre-empt or anticipate what will be in that budget ahead of time, you’ll appreciate that.”

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