Boris Johnson will set out a “new energy supply strategy” in the coming days to improve the country’s energy self-reliance and keep down domestic bills as prices reached new heights today.

The PM said that while the world could not simply eliminate the use of Russian oil and gas, it could accelerate the transition away from it. “We need to intensify our self-reliance as a transition [to net zero] with more hydrocarbons, but what we also need to do is go for more nuclear and much more use of renewable energy,” he said.

After prevaricating for days over how to respond to the energy crisis sweeping the world, Johnson is understood to have accepted that the urgency of the situation demands a swift response and that all options to increase energy supplies to Britain – and elsewhere – need to be explored. It is understood that the government may even be considering looking again at fracking although Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, is said to be unhappy about the new direction.

While Britain only receives 4% of its gas supply from Russia, the lower overall Russian supply to Europe would have an impact on what other suppliers can sell to the UK as well as less electricity coming from the continent via interconnectors. 

Johnson added: “We can go fast in the UK… what we need to do is to make sure we are all moving in the same direction… and that we accelerate that move and I think that’s what you are going to see.”

Johnson’s about-turn comes as oil prices reached a 14-year peak this morning and European natural gas prices climbed to an all-time high, as Putin’s ruthless assault on Ukraine continues for a 12th day. 

Prices surged again today as Western leaders move further towards the idea of an embargo on Russian oil. 

Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, said yesterday: “We are talking to our European partners and allies to look in a coordinated way at the prospect of banning the import of Russian oil.”

The price per therm of UK natural gas as of 7 March.

After Blinken’s comments, European gas prices spiked to just over 800p per therm – an 18-fold increase in just one year. And Brent crude – the international benchmark price for oil – surged towards $139 a barrel, the highest level it has ever reached, before falling back to $125.
So far, Western leaders have avoided imposing sanctions on the Russian energy sector, fearing the economic cost to the West, especially to Europe, would be too painful.  
Ukraine’s allies must decide soon. Ironically, the only person benefiting from the current uncertainty and half-hearted talks about an embargo is Putin himself.
Discussing it without delivering means the Kremlin will receive billions of extra dollars thanks to the higher oil and gas prices. 
“Either put the ban in place, or backtrack and let prices drop,” Bloomberg’s Javier Blas has said. 
As Domenicantonio De Giorgio, Professor of Financial Markets at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, points out: “You destroy a monopolist if you bring to zero the price of the asset they own, not if you squeeze it to the sky.”