Britain’s gas costs soar as link closed

Britain’s wholesale gas prices surged to a record high yesterday after one of its main import pipelines shut down unexpectedly, exposing yet again its vulnerability to foreign supplies.

The country is already grappling with a potential gas supply crisis as a late blast of winter depletes stored reserves, coal power plants close and pending maintenance in Norway threatens to further squeeze supply. However, the development is expected to have a minimal impact on the Irish market, according to John Heffernan, spokesman from the Bord Gáis Energy Index.

“Irish domestic customers are protected from short-term wholesale price fluctuations, as the gas used today... has been bought over the last number of months thereby limiting the exposure to short term spikes in wholesale prices,” said Mr Heffernan.

“In addition, Irish buyers of prompt UK gas have benefited and been cushioned somewhat from a weakening sterling versus the euro. Since the start of the year, the pound has lost nearly 5% of its value versus the euro”

Gas prices for within-day delivery spiked at 150 pence per therm, more than 50% above Thursday’s closing price, following the closure of the pipeline linking Britain and Belgium that facilitates gas imports from Europe.


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