Interconnector, which runs the gas pipeline between the UK and Belgium, said a technical problem related to a water/glycol pump at its Bacton gas terminal had forced the shutdown.
Gas prices for same-day delivery jumped to 150p per therm, more than 50pc above Thursday’s closing price and the highest level seen since March 2006. Week-ahead gas surged as much as 37pc to 135p a therm, also a seven-year high.
The Interconnector is one of Britain’s main gas import pipelines. This week, it set a new record, exporting 783 gigawatt-hours of gas from Belgium to Britain.
Weeks of cold weather have left national gas supplies at critically low levels, prompting fears of a new wave of engery bill increases.
If the pipeline remains shut for a number of days, Britain’s grid operator could be forced to trigger emergency supply options, including reducing demand from contracted users.