The government is meeting with representatives of UK energy companies over concerns that soaring gas prices could lead to food and fuel shortages.
Sky News understands that Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng will be speaking to senior Ofgem today, Centrica, National Grid, Energy UK, Octopus, Ovo, SSE, EDF, Scottish Power, Shell Energy, E.ON, Bulb and SGN.
Mr Kwarteng tweeted that the UK government “does not expect supply emergencies this winter”.
Energy security is a top priority. We work closely with @ofgem and gas operators to monitor supply and demand
This explainer provides the background and the steps we are taking to protect the energy supply, industry and consumers 👇🏾https: //t.co/tmgQtzy0Xe
– Kwasi Kwarteng (@KwasiKwarteng) September 18, 2021
As a result, some companies that use gas in the production of products have closed their doors due to the high price of fuel.
A resulting carbon dioxide shortage would fuel concerns about possible shortages in the meat supply, as the industry uses CO2 for the slaughter of animals.
But there are also concerns that some people will not be able to afford the high cost of heating their homes during the winter.
A spokesperson for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy told Sky News: “The UK benefits from access to a wide variety of gas supply sources to ensure that households, businesses and industry heavy vehicles get the energy they need at a fair price.
“We are monitoring this situation closely and are in regular contact with food and agriculture organizations and industry, to help them manage the current situation.”
In an unusual move and in reference to consumers, government officials wrote an “explicator” as to why “Britain’s (GB) gas system has … sufficient delivery capacity to more than meet demand” .
The rise in gas prices has been attributed to strong global demand, maintenance issues and declining solar and wind power production.
A former Ofgem chief told BBC Radio 4 Today Britain is expected to face high energy prices for the rest of the year.
Dermot Nolan said the increases were the result of depleted stocks after a cold winter last winter, reduced supply from Russia and increased demand for liquefied natural gas from the Far East.
The government has been urged by meat producers to protect the food supply chain after rising gas prices caused a shortage of carbon dioxide in the industry.
Fertilizer factories in Teesside and Cheshire, which produce CO2 as a by-product, stopped production due to the sudden rise in wholesale gas prices.
Sky’s Ed Conway said that over the next few months we can expect many more industrial plants to temporarily cease production.
Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association, said CO2 is essential both for the humane slaughter of livestock and for extending the shelf life of products.