The energy regulator has rejected Boris Johnson’s claim that the gas shortage is “a short-term problem”, refusing to predict how long the crisis will last.
The prime minister raised eyebrows when he rejected warnings of a cost-of-living crisis this winter, insisting “spikes in gas prices” – like food supply problems – will soon be over.
But Jonathan Brearley, Ofgem’s chief executive, refused to echo the prediction, telling MPs. “It’s extremely difficult to predict the future of the gas price.”
He pointed to “unprecedented changes over the last few months” – which had seen the wholesale price leap by almost 6 times over the last year – warning: “We are in unprecedented territory I’m afraid.”
There were “many, many factors” that were outside the UK’s control, such as rising international demand and supply restrictions, an emergency inquiry by the Commons business committee was told.
“It’s very, very hard to predict how long that will last,” Mr Brearley said, warning an end to the supply squeeze was “not something that we at Ofgem would rely on”.
But the chief executive played down fears of the UK running out of gas, saying: “You can’t rule anything out, but we have a resilient system that customers can rely on.”