London (CNN Business)-- Energy prices are skyrocketing, and as winter approaches, Europe is getting worried.
The wholesale cost of natural gas has surged to record highs in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany and Italy. Bills for households and businesses are already soaring, and could go even higher as cold weather sets in and more fuel is needed for electricity generation and heating systems.
"We've seen huge price increases," said Dimitri Vergne, head of the energy team at The European Consumer Organization. "It's worrying ahead of the winter, when gas consumption will necessarily increase."
A complex web of factors is at play. A cold spring depleted natural gas inventories. Rebuilding stocks has been tough, thanks to an unexpected jump in demand as the economy bounces back from Covid-19 and a growing appetite for liquified natural gas (LNG) in China. Russia is also supplying less natural gas to the market than before the pandemic.