Snow could cost the UK up to £630m every day

Ben Southwood
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A COLD snap as bad as January 2010’s could gut the UK economy to the magnitude of hundreds of millions of pounds per day, according to estimates out yesterday.

Insurer RSA said that if 44 per cent of the workforce couldn’t get to work, like in 2010, it would subtract £629m from GDP every day.

Even if two thirds could make it to their jobs, there would still be a £473m per day blow to the economy, the RSA figures showed.

Gas prices were around 37 per cent above the seasonal normal, after the shock freeze had boosted demand for fuel, cutting approximately 90 per cent out of gas storage sites’ reservers.

What’s left – around 500m cubic metres – could only service current levels of demand for 1.36 days. Even with the gas that’s coming in, the UK will run out by 8 or 9 April, without a surge in natural gas deliveries.

A delivery boost may be coming, the National Grid said, with an oversupply of 21.7m cubic metres expected, potentially leaving room to add to storage.

And traders said that tankers were being diverted to the UK from Asia due to the high prices.

“The high spot prices have attracted some liquefied natural gas tankers that would usually go to Asian buyers, where spot prices are normally higher than in the UK,” one trader said. Two tankers, together holding 0.53m cubic metres have unloaded in the UK this week, and another 0.35m, spread across two ships, is expected to come by 3 April.

And these higher prices are impacting consumers too, with the average January to March household energy bill reaching £557, according to Energyhelpline, the highest in history. “If you thought the wintry weather was bad, wait till your energy bill arrives in April,” said Energyhelpline research director Mark Todd. “Unless you have switched to a cheap deal it is very likely to send a further chill down your spine.”

A Met Office spokesperson said further cold weather was due through the rest of the week, with wind and snow showers “likely to continue across northeastern and central parts of the country, although the odd wintry flurry is possible almost anywhere”.