British Gas profits up 58 per cent

UK's biggest energy supplier British Gas, which is the residential gas supplier of Centrica, has ann

Centrica managed to increase its pre-tax profits by over 50 per cent to £996m despite low wholesale gas prices.

The British Gas owner saw a 7 per cent drop in adjusted operating profits to £1.86bn. This is because reduction in wholesale gas prices negatively impacted the returns from its "upstream" production business which extracts gas and oil.

The results showing impressive profits for the gas companies have come just after industry regulator Ofgem raised concerns over Britain's biggest utility firms not passing the full benefit of low gas prices to householders, fuelling public anger over energy bills.

Earlier this month, British Gas announced price cuts of 7 per cent, which are likely to be followed by the rest of the 'Big Six'.

Centrica chairman Roger Carr said: "British Gas was the first of the major suppliers to reduce prices in 2009 which, combined with reduced average consumption, provided a welcome reduction in bills."

British Gas supplies to 15.7 million homes in the UK. This shows a rise of 141,000 in the year, which is the fastest rate of annual customer growth since 2003.

The company was able to achieve the huge rise in profits due to new additions in gas and electricity customers as well as making operational improvements.

Centrica's shares were up 1.8 per cent to 277p. The group also announced the launch of a new insulation business for which it will recruit a further 1,100 workers.