By Jason Theodorou

British Gas saw a 58% profit increase last year, according to an announcement by its parent company Centrica. The energy supplier’s residential arm made profits of £595 million in 2009.

Centrica said that despite the success of British Gas, total group underlying operation profits had dropped to £1.86 billion. Roger Carr, chairman of Centrica said: ‘The current low commodity price environment represents a challenge to our upstream UK business’.

Centrica said that a ‘cold start to 2010 led to a record demand for gas’, and that the country’s infrastructure had coped well following recent investments by the industry. Carr stressed the need for ‘further investment and more long-term gas contracts’ to meet demand as local production declines.

British Gas made price cuts of 7%, which helped to attract 141,000 new customers. Critics argue that the cuts have come too late for householders.

Industry watchdog Ofgem announced this week that energy firms have seen profit margins rise in recent months, averaging at £30 for a dual fuel customer. British Gas reports that their dual fuel customers would have saved £7 compared to this figure.

Centrica said that 2010 would be a profitable year and that the company was ‘well placed for future growth’.

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