Great Britain

Government ‘confident’ winter gas supply won’t be affected by global demand surge

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng claimed that there there is no "cause for immediate concern" over gas supplies after holding urgent talks with industry leaders.

The cabinet minister played down the prospect of a winter emergency due to surging prices and claimed the UK had more than enough capacity to meet demand.

After meeting with senior executives to discuss the impact of record gas prices, he took to Twitter to try and calm fears about increases in fuel bills and the effect on other industries.

"I was reassured that security of supply was not a cause for immediate concern within the industry,” he tweeted.

"The UK benefits from having a diverse range of gas supply sources, with sufficient capacity to more than meet demand. The UK's gas system continues to operate reliably and we do not expect supply emergencies this winter."

Mr Kwarteng said he was confident energy security could be maintained while increasing the usage of renewables.

He said: “Energy security is an absolute priority. We are confident supply can be maintained.

“Our largest single source of gas is from domestic production, and the vast majority of imports come from reliable suppliers such as Norway. We are not dependent on Russian oil and gas.

“However, our exposure to volatile global gas prices underscores the importance of our plan to build a strong, home-grown renewable energy sector to further reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Renewable energy has quadrupled since 2010, but there is more to do.”

Natural gas prices are at record highs as countries around the world begin to recover from the Covid pandemic.

High energy prices are also linked to maintenance issues at some gas sites, a fire in Kent knocking out a major electricity cable connected to France, low gas supply from Russia and Norway, outages at some nuclear stations, and lower levels of solar and wind power generation.

Annual gas and electricity bills are set to soar by up to £280 next year due to the 60 per cent increase in wholesale energy prices, in addition to price rises in October.

Mr Kwarteng said that protecting customers from huge price rises was “an absolute priority”.

“The energy price cap exists to protect millions of customers,” he tweeted. “Initiatives such as the Warm Home Discount, Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments will help further.”

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