The UK's Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG) is demanding urgent action to prevent gas supplies running out this winter. The tightening balance of supply over demand has driven industrial gas prices to record levels - up to 50% above annual prices in Europe, EIUG says.

<p>High prices are undermining the competitiveness of energy intensive industries, forcing some businesses to close altogether, the lobby group said in a statement. EIUG&#0039;s comments come in response to proposals set to be unveiled by trade secretary Alistair Darling that should loosen planning rules, making new gas storage facilities easier to build.<br /><br />Britain came perilously close to running out of gas in March this year. Without reforms, we face greater risks during the winter ahead. <br /><br />EIUG welcomes news of government proposals to boost gas storage – and its commitment to addressing long term supply issues through the Energy Review – but notes that action arising from these initiatives, though welcome, will not arrive soon enough to reduce the threat to industrial supplies this winter, the statement reads.<br /><br />EIUG has identified five areas where action needs to be taken &#0039;well before the coming winter&#0039;: <br /><br />- Improve the use of import infrastructure (to ensure existing capacity is fully utilized) <br /><br />- Improve the use of gas storage (ensuring storage is priced at a cost-reflective level) <br /><br />- Implement common commercial terms (ensuring equitable terms with respect to European industry) <br /><br />- Improve access to market information (to improve market efficiency) <br /><br />- Increase demand side response (compensating users for reducing demand when supplies are tight).</p>