Centrica to record 25% surge in profit

Analysts now forecast the company to post operating profit of £2.3bn for this year, up from £1.86bn

Centrica is poised to post a near 25 per cent surge in profit in 2010 following a 50 per cent growth in oil and gas volumes recorded by its UK upstream business compared to 2009.

The energy company revealed in a statement issued on Wednesday that it beat the market's operating profit expectations for 2010.

"Overall, the group's forecast operating profit for 2010 is slightly ahead of current market expectations," the energy company said in an interim trading statement.

Earlier this week, the Centrica-owned British Gas hiked its domestic gas and electricity tariffs by around seven per cent.

Analysts now forecast the company to post operating profit of £2.3bn for this year, up from £1.86bn in 2009.

British Gas also increased the number of residential energy accounts since the beginning of this year by 270,000.

The company statement said it "continued to perform strongly during the third quarter, making good progress towards the strategic priorities set out earlier this year."

However, Centrica justified the increase in residential gas and electricity prices, which will take effect from December 10, saying that wholesale costs of gas and electricity were set to rise, besides other costs such as network charges and environmental obligations.

During the first half of 2010, Britain faced one of the coldest winters in decades, which in turn caused a spike in gas demand and Centrica's net profits rocketed by almost sevenfold to nearly £1.4bn.

British Gas profits for the first half rose by 98 per cent to £585m.