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One of Britain’s main industrialists has warned the industry could be forced to shut down if the UK suffers a bad winter.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe said last night that a lack of gas storage has left the UK vulnerable and gas prices are likely to remain high through the winter.
This could lead to a widespread shutdown, he warned, if a harsh winter results in increased demand from businesses and consumers, outstripping supplies.
Appearing on ITV Peston, Ratcliffe – the founder of the chemical giant Ineos – asked if the country could close due to a prolonged cold snap, he replied:
“Yes, in which case then what you would do is shut down the industry. ”
It would be a blow to an economy that is still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.
As Ratcliffe put it:
“Economically… we’re in a bad spot like after Covid, so you don’t really need to shut down the industry, and it’s not great for UK industry if we tell all of our customers that we can’t not provide them. ”
Ratcliffe said it was difficult to predict how long the current situation would last, but predicted it would likely continue through the winter due to increased demand for gas.
And he criticized the UK’s lack of gas storage, compared to other European countries, saying it was “a bit pathetic really for a nation as large as the UK” to have only 10 days of storage.
When we had the, if you remember, the ‘Beast From The East’, we were a day or two out of gas in the UK.
“If we had run out of gas it would have been a disaster for, you know, the elderly who couldn’t have had heat in the house, for the industry that should have shut down. But we were in a few days and we made this point. ”
British industry executives have for days warned that factories could be forced to shut down unless the government gives them backing – with steel bodies claiming they are on the brink of a widespread crisis that puts jobs in danger.
The push continues to push energy providers to the brink. Two other businesses collapsed on Wednesday – Pure Planet, a renewable energy company backed by oil company BP, and Colorado Energy.
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