Media reports in the UK have again raised fears about another round of price increases, with rumors suggesting consumers could soon be paying up to GBP1,000 per annum for their gas.

This figure emerged after British gas revealed that a further hike in its prices is around the corner, with tariffs likely to increase by as much as 25%. British Gas – the UK gas incumbent owned by Centrica – has insisted that it cannot support the impact of soaring wholesale gas prices without passing the burden down the value chain to end users.

However the company has reiterated its belief that faltering market opening in continental Europe was partly to blame for UK consumers getting a raw deal. It is a common refrain from the British energy sector, with regulator Ofgem having already demanded more action from the EU to expedite market liberalization.

Specific concerns this winter have centered on use of the strategically vital Zeebrugge-Bacton pipeline, with UK energy providers adamant that the line is not being used to transport its full complement of gas.

With Britain now dependent on gas imports from the continent, Europe’s failure to open up its energy markets is costing UK customers dear, Mark Clare, managing director of British Gas, told the BBC.