January 9, 2010 / 7:38 PM / 9 years ago

PM says gas won't run out despite freeze

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Saturday that Britain’s gas supplies would not run out during the current cold snap and that everything was being done to keep major roads open.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown visits the DP World London Gateway port construction site at Standford-le-Hope near Thurrock in southeast England, January 5, 2010. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Gas demand has hit a series of all-time highs as Arctic conditions have swept across Britain, pushing temperatures to below minus 21 C (minus 6 F).

Almost 100 firms were forced to stop using gas this week to ensure supplies to households were maintained.

“I can assure you: supplies are not running out,” Brown said in a podcast.

“We’ve got plenty of gas, of course, in our own backyard — the North Sea — and we also have access to the large reserves in Norway and Netherlands via pipelines.”

The National Grid has issued two alerts to warn of a potential shortfall in supply, although both have since been lifted.

Britain’s most severe cold snap in 30 years has made hundreds of roads impassable and a shortage of road salt has compounded problems.

Brown said the government was working with suppliers to make sure stocks of salt to grit roads and pavements were available where most needed.

The government has ordered fresh salt supplies from abroad but these were not due to arrive for at least another week.

The Met Office forecasting service said up to 20 cm (8 in) of snow could fall over the next 24 hours, with the southeast of the country likely to be the hardest hit.

Reporting by Christina Fincher; Editing by Michael Roddy

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