The Kremlin said on Wednesday that Russian gas giant Gazprom was supplying gas to Europe at maximum levels under existing contracts and any increase would need to be negotiated with the company.
“Nothing can be delivered beyond the contracts,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
“How? For free? It is a matter of negotiating with Gazprom.”
Separately, deputy energy minister Pavel Sorokin said Russia had not changed its timetable for gas injection into storage facilities until November 1, implying it was in no hurry to supply additional gas to Europe on the spot market.
European gas prices have hit record levels this month, but the Kremlin has repeatedly denied that Russia is deliberately withholding supplies in order to exert pressure for quick regulatory approval of its new Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline across the Baltic Sea to Germany.
In the UK, Ofgem is said to be bracing itself for a fresh wave of supplier collapses as early as tomorrow as the wholesale price of gas remains at record highs.
A global shortage has caused it to rise by 250 percent since January.
Sky News reported that at least four suppliers were in talks with Ofgem today about entering its Supplier of Last Resort (SOLR) system.
The system means that a collapsed firm’s domestic customers are transferred over to a solvent company with no interruption to their supply.
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Should it materialise the news would add several hundred thousand households to the toll of those impacted by soaring wholesale gas prices.
Industry sources said the decision of at least some of those four companies to cease trading could be announced as early as tomorrow.
They are thought to include Pure Planet, which has been left marooned by backer BP’s likely decision to terminate financial support to the company.
An executive at one of the UK’s biggest energy companies said they understood that the other suppliers that were about to enter the SOLR mechanism were significantly smaller than Pure Planet in terms of customer numbers.
A Pure Planet spokesman said at the weekend that it had 250,000 customers.
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It is claimed that firms Ampower, Zebra Energy and Neon Reef are also among those at risk of collapse.
The SOLR procedure was established in 2003 to ensure that when supplier failure occurs domestic customers are guaranteed continuity of supply.
It has been used prolifically recently after the price of wholesale gas skyrocketed – sending numerous smaller firms to the wall.
Bigger suppliers, including Centrica’s British Gas, EDF Energy and Octopus Energy have stepped into the fray to ensure supply continues.
But with more than 1.7 million households now being affected by the crisis, there have been increasing calls for Government support.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been criticised for taking a holiday in a Spanish villa while the UK faces energy shortages and problems recruiting much-needed HGV drivers.
But Conservative Party co-chairman Oliver Dowden defended Mr Johnson this morning.
Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, he said: “I’ve worked closely with three prime ministers and I can assure you that there’s no such thing as a holiday for a prime minister.
“I know the Prime Minister will be and is working out there and is engaged with issues going on in the UK.
“But also, I hope your viewers will appreciate that the Prime Minister has been through a challenging time in a lot of different ways – he had Covid-19, he’s got a new child on the way, and very sadly he lost his mother just a few weeks ago.
“So this is just a short break and he will be returning to the UK and I am expecting to see him later this week.”