UK may aid energy firms as gas price spike hits

Soaring gas prices are stoking fears of crisis in the UK.

A series of energy providers have already gone bust, limited by law in their ability to pass on the higher prices to customers.

Experts say many more could follow into bankruptcy.

The UK government said Tuesday (September 21) that it might step in with loans to providers, if they have to take on customers from failed rivals.

It all has consumers worried how much it will cost to heat their homes during winter.

But the impact could go far wider.

The rising prices, up around 250% since January, have halted some output of fertiliser, an energy-intensive product.

That in turn cuts off supplies of carbon dioxide, a byproduct of the industry.

Durham University energy expert Jon Gluyas says that could mean empty shelves in supermarkets:

"The food industry requires high grade carbon dioxide, essentially pure carbon dioxide, and it uses it in a number of ways. It uses in packaging of goods for food goods to lengthen the shelf life. Similarly, it's used in the slaughtering industry to stun animals before they're slaughtered."

There's no one reason for the rising prices, a global phenomenon.

Demand has jumped as the world emerges from lockdown.

Supplies from Russia have been lower than usual.

Some nuclear plants are shut for maintenance, and calm weather has cut wind output.

Speaking in parliament on Monday (September 20), business minister Kwasi Kwarteng tried to sound reassuring:

"There is absolutely no question, Mr. Speaker, of the lights going out or people being unable to heat their homes."

Industry is responding, with Norway promising to boost gas supplies.

Even so, many consumers will wonder if there's a cold and expensive winter ahead.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting