Energy crisis: Centrica boss issues stark warning high bills 'to last two years'

12 January 2022, 15:41

Energy bills could continue to rise for up to two more years.
Energy bills could continue to rise for up to two more years. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

The chief of energy company Centrica has issued a stark warning about the ongoing energy crisis as millions of Brits face soaring bills.

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Chris O'Shea said that the way the market stands, high gas prices could remain in place for "the next 18 months to two years".

He also said that the domestic problem was unlikely to be resolved by increasing the supply from the North Sea.

It comes as the demand for gas has risen due to the transition from coal and oil to greener resources, he said.

Read more: Hug your pet and do star jumps to keep warm as gas bills soar says energy firm

Read more: Cost of living crisis: Axe VAT on energy bills to save people £600, says Labour

Parliamentary energy adviser Dom Goggins gives his take on the energy crisis

Mr O'Shea said: "As we move towards net zero, gas is a big transition fuel.

"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."

On the idea of boosting supply from the North Sea to solve the crisis, Mr O'Shea said: "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.

"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."

It follows a customer uproar after energy supplier Ovo emailed customers 10 ways they could keep warm amid the rising prices, including hugging their pets or doing star jumps.

Chief Stephen Fitzpatrick later said it was a "big mistake" and confirmed that the company had issued an apology to its customers.

Meanwhile, Labour's motion to cut VAT on energy bills - as a way to help save people £600 - was defeated in the Commons on Tuesday.

Boris Johnson is instead reported to be backing a plan being developed by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, intended to provide state loans to firms threatened with closure over the winter.