(Bloomberg) – UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has called another round of emergency meetings with leaders in the natural gas industry, seeking to avert a crisis as suppliers face mounting pressure from to an unprecedented increase in energy costs.

Kwarteng met with senior executives from energy companies and regulators on Saturday to discuss rising gas prices that threaten to shut down suppliers and disrupt industries from fertilizer to meat. Kwarteng will meet with the regulator, Ofgem, tomorrow and call another meeting with leaders on Monday to plan a way forward.

“I was reassured that security of supply was not a cause of immediate concern within the industry,” Kwarteng said in a statement.

The energy crisis in Europe has helped push natural gas prices to record highs in the UK Squeezing natural gas supplies and rising prices have forced at least five UK energy suppliers to shut down. The leaders assured Kwarteng that there was no threat to the gas supply as the country entered the colder winter months.

“Ofgem has strong measures in place to ensure that customers do not have to worry, that their needs are met and that their gas and electricity supply will continue uninterrupted in the event of a failure of a supplier, ”according to a government statement.

Read more: UK energy suppliers go out of business as prices soar

Natural gas is essential for the production of electricity for homes and industry and for heating in winter, with more than 22 million homes connected to the grid in 2020. Bills will increase for 11 million homes from the 1st. October and rising bills will put upward pressure. on inflation, which has unexpectedly exceeded the Bank of England’s 2% target in recent months.

‘Dry ice’

In addition to affecting consumers, rising prices and tight supply are having a ripple effect on the entire economy, shutting down production at two UK fertilizer factories and threatening a shortage of carbon dioxide – a byproduct of fertilizer production – on which the food industry relies.

Carbon dioxide is used to stun animals for slaughter, in food packaging that extends shelf life, and in “dry ice” that keeps freezer items frozen during delivery. The British Meat Processors Association has warned that CO2 supplies could run out within two weeks, forcing slaughterhouses to close just as pork producers already face the looming prospect of slaughtering animals.

Read more: Energy crisis brings further chaos to battered UK food supplies

An unprecedented energy crisis in Europe has been brewing for years, with the continent becoming increasingly dependent on intermittent energy sources such as wind and solar as investments in fossil fuels have declined. Rising global demand for gas as economies rebound from lockdown, coupled with lower gas reserves after last year’s cold winter, are also putting pressure on prices.

“Ofgem is working closely with government and industry to ensure consumers continue to be protected while global gas prices are high,” a spokesperson for the UK regulator said.

The agricultural sector could also be hit hard. Earlier this week, CF Industries announced the shutdown of two factories in the UK due to soaring energy costs. Norwegian fertilizer maker Yara said on Friday it will cut around 40% of its ammonia production capacity in Europe by next week, as record gas prices affect production.

Fertilizer prices have jumped over the past year as a pickup in harvests has helped farmers increase their purchases. They were further supported after Hurricane Ida hit the heart of the U.S. fertilizer industry and Storm Nicholas threatened to further damage the Gulf of Mexico. Higher nutrient costs risk exacerbating global food inflation at a time of increasing hunger, especially in the poorest countries.

(Add regulator comment to 10th paragraph)

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