(Bloomberg) -- U.K. business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is holding an urgent meeting Saturday with chief executives of the country’s largest energy suppliers and operators to try to confront a surge in energy prices and a shortage of natural gas supplies.

Kwarteng is holding talks with the energy regulator Ofgem and companies including Centrica PLC, SSE, Electricite de France SA (EDF) and Scottish Power, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The gas market is crucial to the U.K’s energy supply due to its significance in heating, industry and power generation, with more than 22 million households connected to the grid in 2020. The government has been working closely with the regulator and gas supply operators to monitor supply and demand as prices increase. 

Britain has a diverse range of gas supply sources, with sufficient capacity to more than meet demand, and does not expect supply emergencies this winter, Kwarteng said on Twitter Saturday.

Read More: U.K. Government Seeks National Grid Meeting as Power Costs Surge

An unprecedented energy crunch in Europe has been brewing for years, with the continent growing increasingly dependent on intermittent sources of energy such as wind and solar while investments in fossil fuels declined. The uptick in global gas demand as economies bounce back from lockdown coupled with lower gas reserves after last year’s cold winter is also putting pressure on prices.  

Read More: U.K. Government Seeks National Grid Meeting as Power Costs Surge

The increase in prices has caused a knock-on effect across the economy, leading to two U.K. fertilizer plants halting output, and threatening shortages of carbon dioxide -- a byproduct of fertilizer production -- relied on by the food industry.


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