UK wholesale gas prices hit new heights today following a pipeline shutdown, prompting fears that shortages could be imminent.
According to the Financial Times, gas prices for within-day delivery spiked by more than 50 per cent from Friday's closing price to 150p per therm this morning. The increase followed the temporary shutdown of the UK-Belgium Interconnector due to a water pump failure.
"The outage underpins the UK’s import reliance. The next few days are forecast to be cold, heating demand will increase and the UK has almost bled its storage facilities dry," said Andrew Horstead, analyst at energy consultancy Utilyx.
The pipeline was flowing again by mid-afternoon, with gas prices subsequently falling back to 100p per therm. However, Ann Robinson of price comparison website uSwitch.com warned that energy firms should not use the spike as an excuse to increase consumer prices.
Earlier this week, energy secretary Ed Davey confirmed that the government had granted planning permission for the development of new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset.