BOSSES at Runcorn chemical giant Ineos Chlor have denied reports that 2,000 jobs could be at risk due to spiralling energy bills.
It was feared that the plant may be facing a temporary shutdown if soaring gas prices don't fall soon.
However, despite gas prices reaching an unprecedented £2.50-a-therm last week, Ineos claims the prospect of temporary shutdowns are still a long way away.
The firm, once part of ICI, is one of the biggest industrial gasusersinthe UK,usingitto generate electricity to produce chemicals such as chlorine.
Up until two years ago Ineos was paying between 20p and 40p a therm for its wholesale gas supplies.
However, a shortage of supply in Britain, particularly since November, has seen that price shoot up to record
levels. And last week fire at a UK gas storage facility forced the price up to £2.50 a therm.
Despite dropping down to around £2-a-therm on Monday, Ineos still faces a potential crisis.
Chief executive Chris Tane said: 'We have now turned down production to the minimum levels we can safely operate at. This is making us very uncompetitive.
'Gas accounts for around 75% of the cost of producing chlorine and we are now paying five times more for our supplies than our competitors in Europe.'
However, a spokesman for the firm added: 'There is certainly no prospect of jobs being at risk in the immediate future.'
Last week the National Grid issued its first ever gas supply alert, warning that demand was outstripping supply, and warned of emergency measures if the situation did not improve.
Experts say the UK is suffering because of a lack of storage facilities and because its wholesale gas market is liberalised.
Mr Tane said Ineos Chlor had been warning the Government for the past 18 months of a looming crisis.