Centrica signals gas price rise

Centrica, the utilities giant that owns British Gas, has warned that gas prices may rise due to “more challenging” market conditions and a “difficult environment” for energy suppliers in 2008. It made the comments in a trading statement ahead of its full year results, which are due in the New Year.

The company says it has performed well in 2007 dispute the tougher market conditions and that it expects British Gas Residential to remain profitable due to a strong first half but it adds that the rise in wholesale gas prices has cut its margins for gas and electricity.

It says: “Looking forward, the high wholesale prices will, if sustained, create a more difficult environment for retailer energy suppliers in the UK going into 2008. We will continue to monitor this with regard to future pricing policy.”

Centrica also says it has continued to add customers and now serves 16 million people. It adds: “This is partly due to the lead British Gas took in lowering retail tariffs twice in March and April and partly to the improving customer service.”

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