Amerada ready to pipe in the West

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Amerada Hess, the independent gas company, is poised to supply tens of thousands of private customers in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset with its own gas supplies, promising to cut at least 15 per cent off their bills. The company says the reduction, worth pounds 50 a year for an average two-bedroom terrace, will be delivered via British Gas pipes with all meters, emergency and safety arrangements being unaffected. Amerada is also guaranteeing to peg prices at their current levels for at least two years.

The company's move into household gas supply follows a long battle to force British Gas to abandon its own monopoly in the sector. Last year, the Government gave independent suppliers the green light to supply households, despite a Monopolies and Mergers Commission ruling that this should not take place until the end of the century.