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Centrica announces 24pc increase in British Gas profits

Energy group Centrica has announced profits more than doubled in the second half of 2010 while its subsidiary British Gas increased profits by 24 per cent in 2010.

The results helped Centrica to achieve pre-tax profits of £2.8 billion, with operating profits up to £2.39bn from £1.86bn in 2009.

Operating profit at British Gas rose by 24 per cent to £742 million (2009: £598 million).

The news comes two months after British Gas imposed a 7 per cent rise in domestic energy bills, which it blamed on rising wholesale prices.

Around 8 million British Gas customers saw a price increase on December 10, lifting an average customer’s bill by around £80.

British Gas also recorded a 267,000 increase in residential energy customer accounts while there was a record level of services call-outs during cold weather.

It added that British Gas profit was up 25 per cent on average over the past five years.

Centrica also highlighted its £450m investment approved to develop York and Ensign gas fields in the UK North Sea and the creation of 2,600 skilled jobs as highlights for the upcoming year.

Meanwhile Centrica has announced it has entered into an agreement for a three year contract with Qatargas to deliver 2.4 million tonnes per annum of liquefied natural gas to its UK Isle of Grain facility.

The deal will provide enough gas to meet approximately 10 per cent of UK annual residential gas demand, enough to meet the needs of around 2.5 million households.

Prime Minister David Cameron hailed the agreement and said it was good for Britain, energy security, jobs and economic growth.

Centrica chairman Sir Roger Carr said: “With domestic sources of gas in decline and rising levels of demand in the Far East, the need for the UK to secure future supplies is essential. In the UK it is clear that Liquefied Natural Gas has an increasingly important role to play.

“We are therefore pleased to have concluded a contract that secures significant volumes of gas for the UK from Qatar, the world’s largest exporter of LNG, sufficient to meet 10 per cent of UK residential gas demand over the next three years.”

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