British gas electric vans

Top stories

British Gas sheds customers as Centrica feels the heat

British Gas lost 224,000 domestic customers in the first three months of 2016, with consumers turning to smaller energy providers.

The company lost just under 120,000 accounts in the whole of 2015. Its parent firm Centrica now has 14.44 million accounts in the UK, meaning its loss in the first quarter of this year amounts to 1.5% of its total customers.

The Financial Times report that consumers are electing to leave larger utility firms as companies like British Gas struggle to lower the price of bills to meet falling energy costs. Like other big six energy providers, Centrica has been hit hard by the falling oil price.

Centrica’s chief executive, Iain Conn, explained the loss by saying that an unusually high number of customers were coming off long-term fixed tariff plans at the same time.

Conn faced a revolt by a minority of shareholders on Monday, who were angry at that he received £3million pay out for 2015, at a time when the company announced 6,000 job losses by 2020 and underlying profit fell.

Obama to visit Saudi Arabia with Opec in turmoil

President Obama will visit Saudi Arabia tomorrow with the country smarting from failed talks between Opec member countries at the start of the week.

Saudi Arabia backed out of an agreement with other major oil producing states to freeze production on Monday, as part of an apparent power play with Iran. The Saudis had demanded that Tehran, newly able to access the oil market after the nuclear deal, agree to halt production as part of the deal.

The Daily Telegraph is among the outlets reporting on tension between the US and the Saudis after congress passed legislation allowing the victims of the 9/11 attacks to sue the Saudi royals in American courts, as part of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act.

The White House is understood to be trying to scuttle the legislation, but, according to the New York Times, there has been mounting tension between the countries in recent years. The war in Yemen, the re-emergence of Iran and the failure of the Obama administration to aggressively tackling Assad’s regime in Syria are understood to be sore spots in the Kingdom.

Oil prices slumped on the news of the failed Opec talks, with the New York Times reporting that the market had been forced “back to square one”.

Bloomberg report that Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman  has pledged to limit the impact of subsidy cuts on its citizens, after the failure of the talks.

UK government paid Shell to maintain North Sea assets

Shell enjoyed a negative effective tax rate in the UK last year, as the Conservative government tried desperately to encourage the company to maintain its oil assets in the North Sea.

The Times reports that while countries like Norway and Nigeria collected billions in tax from the oil giant, the company received a net £86m from the UK government last year.

The UK government has given North Sea oil producers’ tax incentives to encourage companies to stay in the region, despite the collapsing price of crude.

In other news

Brazil: Rousseff supporters to take to streets to fight impeachment

Brexit: EU membership good for UK environment – MPs

COP21: Leaders urged not to rush climate agreement

Japan: Nuclear regulators refuse to switch off power plant after earthquake

Solar: SunEdison faces “messy” bankruptcy

UK: Nuclear waste could be flown from Scotland to US

Yemen: Peace talks falter as Houthis refuse to attend