Total reconsiders gas market

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The Independent Online
Total, the French oil giant, is understood to have approached rival companies about a possible sale of its domestic gas customer base. The move is the latest sign of fallout in the domestic market, which has been hit by low or non-existent profit margins.

The French group began its assault in spring 1996 when the first domestic competition trials began in the South-west. Total also formed a joint venture company with London Electricity to sell gas in the later trial in the South-east.

Industry sources said Total had now wound down its operation in the South- west. Rival suppliers said they had been approached by Peter Nichols, managing director of Total Gas Marketing and by local sales agents. But a spokesman for Total Gas Marketing insisted the speculation was "totally untrue". But he added: "I wouldn't deny we're putting our energies into the South-east."

Separately, it emerged yesterday that ScottishPower is to raise its domestic gas prices by between 4 and 9 per cent.