The wholesale gas price soared 50% to a seven-year high today after a key gas pipeline from Belgium shut down unexpectedly.
The price of gas for same-day delivery surged to 150p a therm this morning as a water-pump failure forced the closure of the UK-Belgium interconnector, one of Britain’s’s three gas import pipelines.
The surge in the wholesale gas price to its highest level since March 2006 will fuel concerns that supplies are dangerously close to running out, amid a sustained period of colder-than-usual weather.
It emerged yesterday that the cold snap in March has left Britain with only two days’ worth of gas in reserve. This is because customers have been using 20% more gas in recent weeks than is usual for this time of the year. As a result, storage facilities are only 10% full, compared with 49% at this time last year.
Nor are gas shortages the only concern. SSE chief executive Ian Marchant warned yesterday that electricity supplies were also coming under pressure.