The most recent increase in natural gas prices in the UK has been labeled a "national crisis" by several energy firms and industry organizations throughout the country, with many now asking for the government to shield consumers and suppliers as vital gas flows from Russia fall precipitously in light of Moscow's threatening deployment of nearly 100,000 troops along Ukraine's eastern border.
Add to those nuclear outages in France as well as a spike in cold weather, and they are enough to send gas prices sky-high.
"This is a national crisis. Wholesale gas and power prices have increased to unprecedented levels over the last three weeks, creating an extremely difficult operating environment for every business in the industry," Nigel Pocklington, CEO of Good Energy, a small renewable energy supplier, in an interview with the Financial Times.
Energy bills could skyrocket more than 50% to £2,000 a year in the New Year as 'stratospheric' wholesale gas prices threaten a 'national crisis', providers warned today - as former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith accused [Russian President Vladimir] Putin of holding Europe to ransom.
Good Energy, EDF and trade body Energy UK are calling on the Government to urgently intervene after the cost of gas in wholesale markets rose by more than 500 per cent in less than a year. It is currently at £4.50 a therm.
Emma Pinchbeck, chief executive of Energy UK, described the situation as a 'nationwide crisis', telling BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'Domestic energy prices are going to go up 45% to 50% in the spring.
"It is looking pretty serious for the spring. This is a system-wide issue now. We are asking for the Treasury in the UK to intervene as others have [in Europe]," Pinchbeck noted further.
"Other Treasuries in Europe have already responded to the crisis, but in the U.K., the energy sector is still asking if the chancellor knows that energy bills going up by over 50 percent in the new year is a problem for ordinary people, businesses, and the economy," Pinchbeck added.
According to FT, Investec, an investment bank, is predicting a 56 percent rise in energy bills since April, which has pushed them to recent record amounts for the year.
Smith, meanwhile, laid much of the blame on Putin, whom he accused of "driving up prices" as he restricted the supply of gas while adding that the fate of Europe is now "in his hands."
Smith went on to insist that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson telling "crusties" who continue to object to Britain using its own oil and gas resources to become more self-sufficient to "get lost."
"The answer is very simple. We should be getting our own gas," he told DailyMail.com.
"We are sitting on an island on top of gas and oil. We used to be net exporters, we are now net importers and it's not because we've run out -- it's because successive governments stopped exploration and stopped development," he continued. "So the result is now that we are reliant on dodgy regimes like Putin and others for our gas, and that may salve the conscience of a few fanatical environmentalists who don't want the UK to get gas.
"But we still require gas, otherwise we shut down. And that means we've made ourselves reliant on these dodgy regimes," Smith continued. "Why would we allow Putin and these other dangerous leaders to hold us to ransom when we have our own oil and gas?"