Ofgem, it seems, is instructed to report on whether "further action is needed to ensure that medium- to long-term gas supplies for consumers remain secure".
Given the signal success of the free market in supplying our gas since we became a net importer in 2004, this sets alarm-bells ringing in Capitalism Towers - but a positive outcome might also result.
First alarm: is this part of a campaign of denigration? Gas - sounds nice but it's running out, and comes from nasty places like Russia.
Cui bono ? The nuke and renewables lobbies who would have us turn our backs on the only proven positive way to reduce CO2 emissions in a country like the UK, namely by replacing coal-burning with gas burning. (The other way - recession - is pretty effective but not terribly constructive.)
Second alarm (paranoid ? me ?): is "further action needed to ensure ..." code for more subsidies? It usually is: and from the same DTel article:
"Separately, the regulator said yesterday that it plans to strengthen the incentive system for suppliers to deliver adequate gas supplies if a gas shortage occurs."
Cui bono ? We've fingered Centrica - regular little bung-hunters of late - hoping for newly-minted subsidies to gas companies last year: and they are not the only gas company in town.
But on the positive side ... it is going to be hard for Ofgem to ignore the potential of shale gas. This, of course, goes a lot further than 4,000 holes in Blackpool, Lancashire: because even if we are slow off the mark, others in a whole range of countries will be fracking with a will, and the quantities are market-moving wherever they come from. We know this because US shale production has already moved the markets - theirs, and ours.
Cui bono ? All of us !
So - roll on May, when Ofgem must report. Perhaps by then we'll have a new ... there I go, wishful thinking again.