Britain says all options on the table to combat energy crisis

By Susanna Twidale and Elizabeth Piper

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain will look at all options to boost the country’s energy supplies to try to tackle spiralling prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Wednesday.

Wholesale gas prices hit a record high in Britain this week, sparking fears the country’s cap on energy prices will need to rise significantly again in October following a 54% rise due in April.

Johnson said on Wednesday he will set out a plan to help Britain become more independent in its energy generation and combat the price hikes in the next few days. nS8N2UL0IM]

“You would expect the prime minister to look at all options … We need to look at our energy mix going forward both in the short and long term,” Johnson’s spokesman told reporters.

A group of lawmakers led by Conservative Steve Baker has called on the government to lift the moratorium on fracking, saying more domestic gas production could help alleviate high prices and help with Europe’s efforts to reduce its dependence on Russian gas.

Asked on Wednesday whether the government could turn to fracking, the Prime Minster’s spokesman told reporters: “The moratorium on fracking remains in place but it’s important that we look at all options given the ongoing situation in Ukraine and the effect that that’s having on oil and gas prices.”

UK energy firm Cuadrilla Resources said on Wednesday it was continuing with its very advanced plan to plug the country’s only two viable shale gas wells.

Cuadrilla was forced to stop fracking at its Preston New Road site in northwest England in 2019 after operations caused a 2.9 magnitude earth tremor.

The practice, which involves extracting shale gas from rocks by breaking them up with water and chemicals at high pressure, was banned by government later that year after the country’s Oil and Gas Authority said it was not possible to predict the magnitude of earthquakes it might trigger.

Fracking is also fiercely opposed by environmentalists who say extracting more fossil fuel is at odds with Britain’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Business and energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng has previously dismissed the idea that fracking in Britain could help with the current price crisis.

“Additional UK production won’t materially affect the wholesale market price. This includes fracking – UK producers won’t sell shale gas to UK consumers below the market price. They’re not charities” Kwarteng said in a tweet late last month.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper, Editing by Kylie MacLellan, Kirsten Donovan)


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