Port Talbot steelworks owners warned business secretary last month about soaring gas prices
The owners of Port Talbot steelworks warned business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng last month that soaring gas prices would hammer their industry.
However, Kwasi Kwarteng came across as “blasé” at the meeting attended by Tata, which runs the Port Talbot site in south Wales, sources briefed the Times.
The business secretary believed that soaring gas prices were a blip and that the weather would soon change, helping wind turbines generate more power, they said.
“He heard loud and clear about the immediate pressures facing the sectors and how the damage is going to rapidly escalate if the government does not do something quickly,” Gareth Stace, director-general of the industry body UK Steel, said.
Steel prices are near all-time highs as the global economy re-starts following the worst of the Covid pandemic, but the industry is struggling to capitalise as they’re also being hammered by high energy prices.
Kwasi Kwarteng promised to put pressure on the Treasury for help to solve the crisis, but a source from the Treasury told Sky News that wasn’t true.
“This is not the first time the BEIS secretary has made things up in interviews,” they said. “To be crystal clear the treasury are not involved in any talks.”
Gas prices have rocketed due to depleted reserves after a cold winter last year and booming demand as economies emerge from Covid. Russia is also accused of having exacerbated the situation to put pressure on EU countries to rubber-stamp their new Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.