World Ministers preparing for 'worst-case scenario' of persistently high gas costs beyond 'short spike'
How does Boris Johnson hope to avoid another winter lockdown?
The prime minister is pinning his hopes on the UK's vaccination programme greatly reducing the threat of COVID-19 this winter.Almost two months on from "freedom day" in England - when most COVID-19 restrictions were scrapped - the government has set out its plan for what scientists fear could be a "bumpy" winter for the NHS.
The government is preparing for the "worst-case scenario" of gas costs continuing to stay high beyond a "short spike", a minister has told Sky News.
Speaking to Kay Burley, Paul Scully said high wholesale gas costs were placing "pressure" on the energy price cap.
Asked what the worst-case scenario was for a rise in the level of the cap, the business minister replied: "This is all part of the conversations that Ofgem will set that cap at, because supply prices are based on a number of factors.
"Clearly, as a government, we need to make sure we are planning for the worst-case scenario because we want to make sure we can protect consumers."
Energy crisis: How long will it last and what happens if your supplier goes bust?
Households are facing much higher winter energy bills due to a global surge in wholesale power and gas prices. © Sky News Screen Grab The costs are also putting pressure on the suppliers - particularly smaller companies - who are unable to pass on the increases to their customers. Four firms have already folded and there are fears that more could follow.Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has said "well-rehearsed plans" were in place to ensure consumers were not cut off in the event of further failures.
Pushed on what a worst-case scenario could entail, Mr Scully said: "That it goes on for longer than a short spike. I can't give you a figure now."
His comments are in contrast to remarks fromto Sky News earlier this week.
The prime minister told Sky News political editor Beth Rigby that Britain's energy crisis.
Soaring global gas prices have thrown the industry into crisis, with six firms folding this month: PfP Energy, MoneyPlus Energy, Utility Point, People's Energy, Green, Avro Energy.
There are fears that more could follow, with Bulb and Igloo reportedly on the brink of collapse.
There are now roughly 40 suppliers in the UK market, sharply down from a peak of 70 in 2018.
Is the UK headed for a gas shortage this winter?
A surge in gas prices has prompted fears of hard times ahead - but how bad could it get?It's prompted headlines warning of shortages and a "winter of discontent".
The chief executive of Ofgem has warned that rising gas prices may not be temporary and more supplies could go out of business in the coming months.
Jonathan Brearley told MPs that "well above" hundreds of thousands of customers could be affected.
The energy price cap is set to rise from next Friday to £1,227, a record level.
Wholesale prices for gas have increased 250% since the start of the year, and there has been a 70% rise since August.
Consumers are protected from sudden price hikes by the price cap, but this puts pressure on suppliers as they cannot pass on the increase in wholesale gas prices to customers.
The rise has been put down to a number of factors, including a cold winter leaving stocks depleted, high demand for liquefied natural gas from Asia and a drop in supplies from Russia.
The energy crisis is having a knock-on effect in other areas, with rising gas prices affecting carbon dioxide production.
Energy firms' collapse hits 1.5 million customers
Several energy suppliers, such as Avro Energy and Green, have gone bust in recent weeks.Avro Energy and Green ceased trading on Wednesday and their 830,000 combined customers face being switched to a new, potentially more expensive, provider.
, which produces around 60% of the UK's CO2 supply, to provide "limited financial support" towards the firm's running costs for three weeks to help it restart production.
The closure of its two sites last week had prompted fears that.
CO2 is injected into the packaging of perishable foods such as meat and salads to inhibit the growth of bacteria, typically prolonging the shelf life of products such as beef steak by around five days.
The gas is also used to stun animals prior to slaughter, and is deployed as a coolant for medicines and vaccines in the NHS, and likewise in nuclear programmes.
, Iceland's managing director said the UK has to become less reliant on gas by using a "broader energy mix" to prevent shortages.
Richard Walker said: "In the short term I'm more confident that supply chains will be more uninterrupted.
"Certainly in our own business we've been building up stocks of key lines that potentially could have been at risk, like frozen meat for example, and we're confident that we have fully stocked shelves.
"However I think we've now got to think longer-term. This loan is only three weeks: what happens after that, or what happens the next time the gas prices spike?
"So we need a broader, more diverse and therefore more sustainable energy mix so we're not so reliant on gas.
"We also need to look as a food industry, but also further up the supply chains, at different, better ways of capturing CO2 and potentially using alternative gases as well."
Algeria-Morocco standoff threatens Spain gas supplies .
Algeria pumps huge volumes of gas through Morocco into Europe, but with Algiers and Rabat at loggerheads as a pipeline agreement nears expiry, experts say the taps could soon be turned off. That would hit Spain's gas supplies just as prices soar across Europe and with winter approaching, and Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares was due in Algeria on Thursday to discuss the issue, his office told AFP. Algeria, Africa's biggest natural gasThat would hit Spain's gas supplies just as prices soar across Europe and with winter approaching, and Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares was due in Algeria on Thursday to discuss the issue, his office told AFP.