More legal news
15 February 2001
Stephen Byers, the trade and industry secretary, has asked the European Commission to investigate possible anti-competitive behaviour by firms using the interconnector gas pipeline between Britain and Europe.
The move follows 100 per cent increases in British wholesale gas prices. According to the Energy Intensive Users' Group, the bills of the largest users have risen by £500 million.
The pipeline between Bacton in East Anglia and Zeebrugge, Belgium, opened in 1998. It can carry gas in both directions and was expected to make cheap gas available to users in Britain and on the continent. But critics say that little inexpensive continental gas is reaching Britain.
Industry experts wanted more information on the pipeline to be made available. "It's real cloak-and-dagger stuff," said Ian Dobson, chairman of the CIPS energy committee. "Putting a spotlight on the interconnector would be an advantage for gas buyers as it has a huge impact on prices."
The Office of Fair Trading and energy regulator Ofgem have been discussing the possibility of an investigation.