British energy bills can rise by $151 a year: regulator

Lawmakers earlier said customers were being overcharged for electricity and gas. (File/AFP)
Updated 07 February 2019
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British energy bills can rise by $151 a year: regulator

  • “We can assure these customers... that these increases are only due to actual rises in energy costs,” regulator said
  • Ofgem said it needed to allow suppliers to charge more as wholesale energy contracts were 17 percent higher

Britain’s regulator said energy suppliers could increase consumer bills by 117 pounds ($151) a year from April 1 as it announced an increase in its annual price cap on Thursday, due to rising wholesale costs.
Ofgem was tasked by parliament to set a limit after lawmakers said customers were being overcharged for electricity and gas. Prime Minister Theresa May had called the tariffs a “rip-off.”
Ofgem said it needed to allow suppliers to charge more as wholesale energy contracts, used to help formulate the cap level, were 17 percent higher than during the last cap period.
“We can assure these customers... that these increases are only due to actual rises in energy costs, rather than excess charges from supplier profiteering,” Ofgem chief executive Dermot Nolan said.
The cap for average annual consumption will rise to 1,254 pounds from 1,137 pounds for customers on the most commonly used tariffs.
Ofgem calculates the cap using a formula that includes wholesale gas prices, energy suppliers network costs and costs of government policies, such as renewable power subsidies.
Several of Britain’s biggest suppliers, a group known as the “Big Six,” complained that the cap was initially set too low.
Most are expected to increase prices once it is raised. The big six energy suppliers are Centrica’s British Gas, SSE, Iberdrola’s Scottish Power, Innogy’s npower, E.ON and EDF Energy.


Turkey set to begin oil and gas drilling off Cyprus

Updated 21 February 2019
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Turkey set to begin oil and gas drilling off Cyprus

  • “In the coming days we will start drilling with two ships around Cyprus,” Turkish foreign minister said
  • Turkey and the Cypriot government have overlapping claims of jurisdiction in the eastern Mediterranean

ISTANBUL: Turkey will begin drilling for oil and gas near Cyprus in coming days, state-owned news agency Anadolu reported Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu saying on Thursday, a move that could stoke tensions with neighboring Cyprus and Greece.
Turkey and the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government have overlapping claims of jurisdiction for offshore oil and gas research in the eastern Mediterranean, a region thought to be rich in natural gas.
“In the coming days we will start drilling with two ships around Cyprus,” Cavusoglu was quoted as saying in a speech to a business conference in western Turkey’s Aydin province.
“Let those who come to the region from far away, and their companies, see that nothing can be done in that region without us. Nothing at all can be done in the Mediterranean without Turkey, we will not allow that,” Cavusoglu said.
Turkey launched its first drillship “Fatih” in October to drill off the coast of Turkey’s southern Antalya province. It said a second ship that it purchased would operate in the Black Sea, but was diverted to the Cyprus area.
Breakaway north Cyprus, which is supported by Turkey, says any offshore wealth also belongs to them, as partners in the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960.
The island was divided in 1974 after a Turkish invasion triggered by a brief Greek-inspired coup. Countless peacemaking endeavours have failed, and offshore wealth has increasingly complicated peace negotiations, with Greek Cypriots saying the matter is not up for discussion.