Company that produces most of Britain’s CO2 supplies threatens to mothball UK operations just months after it was bailed out by taxpayer
A company that produces most of Britain’s CO2 supplies has threatened to mothball its UK operations just months after it was bailed out by the taxpayer.
CF Industries hit the headlines last year after a surge in the cost of energy prompted it to close two factories – at Billingham, Teesside, and Ince, Cheshire.
The firm produces about 60 per cent of Britain’s CO2 as a by-product of its fertiliser production. The two closures led to shortages of the gas which is vital for making fizzy drinks and packing fresh foods.
Threat: CF Industries hit the headlines last year after a surge in the cost of energy prompted it to close two factories
Ministers intervened to prevent a supply crisis, handing CF Industries a subsidy worth tens of millions of pounds that enabled the firm to reopen its Billingham plant.
The Ince plant has remained closed despite the subsidy. The full amount paid has yet to be disclosed.
A more permanent shutdown would put 500 jobs at risk while once again risking a shortage.
Bosses at CF Industries have said there ‘remains significant uncertainty’ over the two sites. Company documents filed in the US said: ‘Persistence of the current levels of energy costs and product prices facing our UK operations could lead to the continued idling or shutting down of our UK facilities.’
Sources told The Mail on Sunday that staff at the Ince plant are still being paid despite its closure. But they said the uncertainty has sparked resignations at CF Industries’ UK operations.
Across the entire CF group – which has seven facilities in the US and Canada – total earnings rose from £331million to £970million during the last financial year.
Its latest annual report cites the ‘United Kingdom Energy Crisis’ which led to impairment charges of £400million in 2021.
A spokesman said: ‘There has been no change to CF Industries’ operational status in the UK. Operations are dictated by global market conditions. If there is any change, we will communicate directly to stakeholders.’