Gas crisis is ‘unlikely’
British Gas is to hit back at speculation regarding gas shortages today, saying that it is becoming “a scare story that borders on the irresponsible”.
Mark Clare, managing director of British Gas Residential, will be giving evidence at the Trade and Industry Committee inquiry on the security of gas supply, along with Ofgem and Malcolm Wicks, minister for energy.
Just a week ago, Wicks said that gas shortages could occur this winter if it is as cold as predicted. He added that some heavy users of energy, like chemical companies, could be required to cut back their consumption to meet the needs of domestic consumers.
Wicks accused Sir Digby Jones, the director general of the Confederation of Business Industry, of “scaremongering” for warning that “business will shut down, people will lose their jobs” as a result of gas shortages this winter.
At the committee hearing today, Clare will admit that the energy balance has changed in England. He will say: “The golden era when this country was largely self-sufficient in heat, power and light is sadly behind us.” He will add that domestic consumers will not be affected by a harsh winter, but it will be “challenging” for industry.
But the main point of his intervention will be to reassure businesses that the disaster scenario painted by many is unlikely. “Unless we experience a major infrastructure failure offshore or at import terminals, the likelihood of a cold snap impacting non-interruptible business supplies and finally domestic consumers is extremely unlikely.”
Finally, Clare will end with a direct plea to the Government: “If we are really to ensure that Britain has all the energy it needs, we must continue to
put pressure on the (European) member states that are reluctant to open up their markets.”