100 apply for slice of gas supply cake

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The Independent Online
A FURTHER 70 companies have emerged as potential competitors to British Gas in the industrial and commercial gas supply market, writes Mary Fagan.

British Gas did not name the companies but said that more than 100 firms had applied for a share of the North Sea gas that it must release from its contracts under an agreement with the Office of Fair Trading. This compares with about 30 companies that took gas under a similar release scheme last year.

Competitors to British Gas include international oil and gas companies such as Shell, Esso and Mobil. Regional electricity firms are also increasingly involved in gas supply. The problem for many competitors is that until new North Sea fields come on stream they rely on the release of gas already tied up in contracts between producers and British Gas.

A spokesman for British Gas said: 'We still do not know how many of these companies will be there long-term.' It is likely that some will simply sell their share of the gas on to other suppliers rather than become involved in the market directly.

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