The boss of Centrica and head of Scottish Gas has said he does not believe that an independent Scotland would have a large effect on the company.
Sam Laidlaw, the chief executive of the UK’s biggest energy supplier Centrica, said that there would be negligible costs involved if the Scottish independence referendum were to reach a Yes vote.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr. Laidlaw said:
Scottish Gas is an important retailer and we have a lot of customers, but most of our production is in English waters.
Those would have to be segregated and it will have some cost, but it won’t make a material impact to our business.”
Scottish Gas’ parent company Centrica revealed a 40% slide in pre-tax profit recently for the first half of 2014, bringing profits down to £895 million.
British Gas’ residential arm in particular, which has 11 million UK customers, experienced a 26% profit fall to £265 million. Centrica claimed this was down to a warm British winter last year and tightening margins.
The supplier came under criticism lately from energy watchdog Ofgem for failing to reduce customer energy bills in the wake of falling wholesale prices. It released a forecast that stated the Big Six energy suppliers would double their margins over the next 12 months, which sparked backlash from Mr. Laidlaw.
The energy boss argued that the average British Gas dual-fuel customer would see their bill fall by £90 this year and explained that price reductions would be “unlikely” due to the recent series of events in Ukraine.
There are components of the bills which are not spoken about, such as transport and distribution costs, and environmental levies which are continuing to go up, which makes further bill reductions unlikely,”
Mr. Laidlaw has also expressed his feelings on the UK’s in-out referendum with regards to Europe, saying it would be “a great pity” if the UK were to depart from Europe.
The UK needs to be part of Europe, but Europe equally needs to become more competitive and that’s the discussion currently going on.”
Mr. Laidlaw is due to step down from his executive post at Centrica this December. He has spent eight years as the owner of British and Scottish Gas but says he has not thought about what his next move might be.
He has commented further on the prospect of an energy price freeze after the general election, proposed by Ed Miliband. He said the threat of a freeze is acting as a “disincentive to investment” in the industry.