Britain’s main carbon dioxide producer is to hike its prices under a government-brokered deal to keep supplies to key industries going without taxpayer subsidies.
Ministers stepped in last month after a surge in natural gas prices prompted US-owned CF Industries to shut down fertiliser plants that also make 60% of Britain’s CO2 – a key input for sectors from food and drink to nuclear power.
Subsidies said to be worth tens of millions of pounds were used to persuade CF to restart production at one of the plants, in Teesside, but that three-week deal is now coming to an end.
Companies that buy CO2 from CF have now agreed to pay it a price “that will enable it to continue operating while global gas prices remain high, drawing on support from industry and delivering value for money for the taxpayer”, the government said.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Today’s agreement means that critical industries can have confidence in their supplies of CO2 over the coming months without further taxpayer support.”
A spokesman said the rate at which prices would rise under the deal – which runs until January – was “commercially sensitive”.
It comes as wholesale natural gas prices remain high, climbing by 7% to 209p per therm.
That is well below the 355p record level reached last week but several times above the 40p-60p range where gas has traded in recent years.