March 2006 - Interconnector - UK left in the cold

As UK gas prices soared at the start of the year, market watchers struggled to explain why cheaper European gas didn't flood into the UK. But as the UK becomes a net importer of gas, these sorts of market inefficiencies will become more prominent, writes Oliver Holtaway

Ten years after opening up its gas markets to competition, the UK is still suffering from the failure of Europe to follow its lead - and becoming a net importer of gas is making matters worse. Without greater transparency across the European gas markets, the problem will persist, say participants.

The issue came to the fore last November, when a cold snap hit most of Europe. UK prices jumped from around 30p-40p/therm to around £1.65/therm. The price on the German/Dutch border, meanwhile, stood at

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