Centrica chief executive warns high energy prices could last two years

Chris O’Shea said he suspects the prices will stay high for at least the next 18 months.

Meg Hill
Wednesday 12 January 2022 11:38
Centrica chief executive Chris O’Shea has warned the energy crisis may last for two years (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Centrica chief executive Chris O’Shea has warned the energy crisis may last for two years (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Centrica chief executive Chris O’Shea has advised consumers the energy crisis may last for two years.

Speaking to the BBC Mr O’Shea said “the market suggests” high gas prices will continue “for the next 18 months to two years”.

He said the high demand for gas was partly being driven by a move away from coal and oil.

“As we move towards net zero, gas is a big transition fuel,” Mr O’Shea said.

“And so as you turn off coal-fired power stations in other countries, there isn’t an abundance of gas that you can just turn on quickly.”

But Mr O’Shea also threw cold water on the idea of boosting supply from the North Sea as a domestic solution to the crisis.

“I’m not sure an increase in UK supply would have brought the price down from £3 a therm, as it was in December, from 50p as it was a year ago,” he said.

“We bring gas in from the United States, from Norway, from Europe, from Qatar, from other places. So we’re not in a position to simply have the UK as an isolated energy market. We are part of a global market.”

Energy prices have reached record levels (Danny Lawson/PA)

It comes after industry leaders warned a taxpayer-backed support package for energy-intensive businesses hit by the surge in gas prices may be no more than a “flimsy sticking plaster”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly backing a plan being developed by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng for state loans to firms threatened with closure over the winter.

The move follows an extraordinary Whitehall turf war between Mr Kwarteng and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, which broke out over the weekend, with the Treasury denying there any plans for the Government to act.

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