Centrica looking at foreign deals

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Gas giant Centrica is looking at setting up a number of deals with foreign governments, as its gas reserves start to run out off the Lancashire coast.

The company currently runs the Morecambe gas field, which supplies around 48 million cubic metres of gas every day - providing the UK with around eight per cent of its total gas needs. Production is currently tailing off from the fields, falling by 50 per cent in 2005 alone.

Centrica is believed to be willing to spend upwards of £1 billion to gain supply contracts, negotiating with Nigeria, Algeria, Trinidad and Malaysia in the hope of acquiring stakes of up to 50 per cent in production sites.

Forecasters predict that the UK will look overseas for half of its total gas needs by 2009, as supplies from the North Sea run out faster than expected.

Centrica chief executive Sam Laidlaw is expected to warn that gas prices will rise as a result of lowering supplies and the ensuing increase in production costs, at the company's results presentation this Thursday (August 2nd).

He will also be quizzed over whether the company has held with Russian energy giant Gazprom.

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