A NORTH Sea gas producer has said it could deliver large amounts of extra gas amidst a price crisis – if the UK Government changes what it’s allowed to feed into the grid.

Neptune Energy, led by ex-Centrica head Sam Laidlaw, has written to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng seeking an emergency relaxation of the rules as a result of the current market turmoil.

Gas prices have spiked this year and it’s feared that further small firms will be added to the list of insolvencies in the coming days, following the collapse of Utility Point, People’s Energy and others. Power firm Green says it may too go under.

Gas which has a calorific content that’s too high or too low must be blended with other gases to alter its make-up for entry to the UK grid system. When there’s too little gas to mix with, power firms leave stocks in the ground.

Laidlaw says relaxing the rule to allow a system similar to those in place in the Netherlands and Germany “would allow the use of gas at a lower calorific value” and “enable producers to supply more gas", including from his firm’s Cygnus field. The letter states: “The change could be put in place immediately and remain in place for the gas year 2021-22, which begins in October.”

The government says that’s unnecessary because “this is not a question of security of supply”, stating: “We have sufficient capacity to meet demand and do not expect gas supply emergencies to occur this winter.”

READ MORE: Westminster taking wind out of renewables and will push prices up, new analysis finds

The denial comes as regulator Ofgem warns the cost of protecting consumers from failing energy providers could drive bills up. Kwarteng has said the government won’t bail-out failing firms, but may lend cash to bigger players to allow them to take on the customers whose providers have closed.

In the case of People’s Energy, from Midlothian, British Gas — owned by Centrica — has inherited the 350,000 domestic clients affected. Bill-payers are automatically switched to a tariff agreed with Ofgem, but like-for-like prices are not guaranteed.

Emma Pinchbeck, chief executive of trade association Energy UK, said companies are “asking for a bit of calm”. She went on: “The industry plans ahead so we actually saw these prices coming across the summer and we have moved to put in place extra support, particularly for vulnerable customers and other customers through the winter period.”

She went on: “We’ve been saying for a long time to government, certainly since I took this job and way before that, that the retail market in the UK is fragile and a lot of that is to do with policy choices make by the government.

“On the other side of this immediate crisis, we need to get together as an industry, and particularly government needs to get together, and look at retail policy... so that we don’t have events like this again.”

Meanwhile, Ofgem has issued five suppliers – Colorado Energy, Igloo Energy Supply Limited, Neon Reef Limited, Whoop Energy Limited and Symbio Energy – with provisional orders compelling them to pay a combined £765,000 to a government renewables scheme or face sanctions including fines or the loss of their licenses.

The money is due to the Feed-In Tariff, which pays out to the owners of small-scale wind, solar and other eco-generators. Failure to pay in means delay in distributing the cash, Ofgem said.