UK gas prices will soar if Vladimir Putin limits gas exports from Russia this winter, National Grid has warned.

Any disruption to Russian exports to Europe is likely to have the knock-on effect of forcing Britain to pay “significantly higher” prices to import more gas by ship from elsewhere in the world, the Grid said. In its Winter Outlook Report, the company, which is responsible for managing energy supply and demand, said that in most circumstances the UK should remain well-supplied with gas, even if Russia limited its exports.

However, if there was an extremely cold spell and Putin cut off all exports from Russia, then the UK might be forced to take emergency measures to protect household supplies – such as paying industrial customers to use less gas.

About 30 per cent of European gas comes from Russia and roughly half of it passes through the Ukraine under transit agreements. President Putin has threatened that this could be disrupted because of the crisis in the Ukraine.