British exports of natural gas to Europe have hit a six-year high as Brussels battles to shake-off its reliance on Russian energy supplies.
Flows of natural gas through the UK’s interconnector pipeline to Belgium were at the highest levels since at least 2016 on Sunday and Monday, according to data from Elexon, the body that manages the electricity trades that keep Britain's lights on.
British gas exports to the Continent are unusual in December as domestic heating demand soars, meaning supplies are typically kept in the UK.
However, it comes as the European Union attempts to wean itself off Russian oil and gas following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, with Britain’s North Sea production acting as a key substitute.
UK gas prices have also been lower than in Europe in recent months, which has spurred traders to keep exporting to the continent.
It comes as natural gas prices in Europe jumped as a cold snap boosted demand for the fuel, eroded reserves and drove worries about supply risks.
Separately, new data from the Independent Commodity Intelligence Service (ICIS) showed that unseasonably warm weather in October and November helped Europe to reduce gas demand by a quarter.
However, demand is climbing again as a cold snap hits the Continent and sends temperatures plunging.
Meanwhile, oil prices climbed on Monday after China made further progress toward reopening its economy, Opec kept output steady and sanctions on Russian crude kicked in.
Brent crude, the international benchmark, and US-produced West Texas Intermediate were both up around 2pc to $87.14 and $81.48 a barrel respectively.
China's key urban centres including Shanghai announced further easing of Covid restrictions over the weekend, while the Opec cartel of oil producing countries agreed to maintain production at current levels.
The G7’s price cap on Russian seaborne oil also came into force on Monday as the West tries to limit Moscow's ability to finance its war in Ukraine, but Russia has said it will not abide by the measure even if it has to cut production.
The price cap, to be enforced by the G7 nations, the European Union and Australia, comes on top of the EU's embargo on imports of Russian crude by sea and similar pledges by the UK, US, Canada and Japan.
It allows Russian oil to be shipped to third-party countries using G7 and EU tankers, insurance companies and credit institutions, only if the cargo is bought at or below the price cap.