Parts of the CO2 industry exempted from competition law to ensure supplies

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The CF Fertilisers site on Teesside has halted production because of high natural gas prices on September 21, 2021 in Billingham, England. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has temporarily exempted parts of the carbon dioxide (CO2) industry from competition law to help provide further security of CO2 supplies.

The exemption will allow CO2 firms to share information and help prioritise deliveries to industries that need it most, such as the food sector.

The move comes after major supplier Ensus restarted CO2 operations and CF Fertilisers plant now operating at full capacity following government agreement.

The a short exemption from the Competition Act 1998 will also allow companies to discuss specifics of purchasing and pricing, required as part of the industry’s commitment to work towards a long term market-based solution over the next two weeks.

“The government’s quick and decisive action last week provided UK businesses and consumers with confidence that CO2 supplies are secure. Since then, discussions with industry to deliver a long-term solution have made good progress,” Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said

“Companies in the CO2 industry can now work together to ensure that key sectors receive the supplies they need and come to a sustainable market solution. Coupled with Ensus resuming production and CF Fertilisers ramping up operations, we are helping to make this critical industry stronger and more resilient.”

Major commercial CO2 producer Ensus has reopened its Wilton plant following temporary closure for planned maintenance, further securing supplies. The Wilton plant can produce up to 40 per cent of the UK’s CO2 requirements.

Following an exceptional short-term agreement with the government to get CO2 production restarted, CF Fertilisers’ plant in Billingham is now operating at full capacity and shipping CO2 to UK businesses. T

The food and drink industry is the largest user of carbon dioxide with the gas used in a wide range of beverages including beer and soft drinks.

In the meat sector, it’s also used to stun animals prior to slaughter while bakers often use it in a packaging process which prolongs the life of products such as crumpets and cakes.