British Gas accused over review

British Gas has come under attack for hampering a review of controls on its pipelines by the industry watchdog, Ofgas, writes Mary Fagan. Consultants to Ofgas have accused the company's pipeline arm, TransCo, of delays in providing the necessary information and of "gaps" in the data when it arrives.

The review of the pipes is central to the development of competition as it will dictate how much TransCo will in future be able to charge rival suppliers to use the pipes. The problems encountered with TransCo are revealed in a progress report issued by Ofgas yesterday.

The regulator also confirmed that Clare Spottiswoode, the director-general of Ofgas, is considering scrapping the existing price-cap system and introducing some form of profit-sharing scheme.

Coopers & Lybrand, which is advising Ofgas, said: "Our view of the [TransCo] responses is that typically they have arrived later than the date originally requested, and that the information presented is incomplete and of variable quality."

The consultants also expressed concern that TransCo has said that some of the information is still "preliminary" and may need to be changed "in the light of further analysis".

Worries over TransCo's replies to questions have also been raised by Ofgas's other advisers on the review, WS Atkins. The report says: "The submission of data so far is of indifferent quality and does give rise to some concern as to the robustness of planned capital expenditure estimates. There seems to be little evidence of an overall strategic approach to long-term asset management planning."

A spokesman for the pipeline company said that the criticism was premature and hit back at Ofgas for delays in issuing the original consultaton on the review. He said: "This should not be seen as a tussle between us and Ofgas. We have provided 400 documents and there will be more meetings soon to resolve outstanding issues." However, he added: "There is some information which we cannot supply because we do not know the direction and shape which Ofgas wants the industry to take."

The debacle comes just weeks after TransCo was forced to back down over planned increases in pipeline charges after an outcry from rival suppliers. Ms Spottiswoode told the company to come up with fresh proposals and warned that any increase would have to be proven to be justified.

Other gas suppliers, including North Sea producers and electricity firms, said the planned price increases would have squeezed margins enough to put some people out of the market. They privately accuse TransCo of using its monopoly power to hold back competition.

Earlier this week British Gas's chairman, Richard Giordano, said there was "doubt" as to whether the Government's planned introduction of competition in domestic supply next April could be met. He warned that delays with legislation left too little time for proper testing of the systems. But the Government is adamant that the scheme, initially involving 500,000 homes in the South-west, should not be delayed.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
Man taking selfie in front of car
health
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Frozen out: despite being filmed in Iceland, 'Fortitude' is set further north, in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard
tvGerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Life and Style
Carmen Khu from The Royal China Club pours a cup of Dai-Hong-Po tea
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
film
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£16500 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Finance compa...

Ashdown Group: Client Services Manager - Relationship Management - London

£30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

Guru Careers: In-House / Internal Recruiter

£25 - 28k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An In-house / Internal Recruiter is needed to...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore