Record profits for British Gas

Centrica, the parent company of British Gas has announced record profits for its British Gas operations of £742 million for last year.

Pre-tax profits for the company were £2.8 billion, with operating profits up by 29%.

The company was criticised for raising its prices by 7% but is still the UK’s largest gas supplier and had an increase of 267,000 customers in the accounting period.

They said their profit had been made in a difficult market with rising wholesale energy prices, with prices in the UK around 40% higher in 2011 than they were in 2010.

In a statement the chairman Sir Roger Carr said: “The UK power market is entering a period of transformation. The Government’s consultation on Electricity Market Reform will lead to major changes in energy policy.

“If the country is to meet its climate change targets, substantial reductions in carbon intensity will be needed.

“Centrica has a leading role to play, both upstream in gas production and power generation, and downstream in homes and businesses – securing reliable, lower carbon sources of energy for the years ahead and helping our customers take control of their energy use.”

The results follow the news yesterday that Centrica signed a £2billion gas deal with Qatar to deliver 2.4 million tonnes per annum of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the UK Isle of Grain facility.

In response to Centrica’s announcement consumer organisation, Consumer Focus is calling greater clarity and transparency on energy pricing.

Consumer Focus Chief Executive, Mike O’Connor CBE, said: “We need successful energy companies but consumers may look at today’s profits and at recent prices rises and question how one justifies the other.

“The issue is not about one company or one year’s profit or loss but it is about whether the energy market is working properly and Ofgem’s review must try to answer this question once and for all.

“If the regulator identifies systemic weaknesses in the energy market then it should seriously consider whether a Competition Commission investigation is needed.”

Alison Brown

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