A recent fire at a major South Korean manufacturing plant has led to a worldwide shortage of laptop batteries.

The fire occurred at LG Chem’s Orchag plant at the beginning of March. LG Chem is the second biggest battery manufacturer in South Korea and supplies Dell amongst others, with laptop batteries.

According to Dell, the fire has already led to a rise in prices for existing supplies of replacement batteries. Dell has said that it is working with other suppliers to keep the increase in prices to a minimum. That said, Dell has thusfar refused to comment on whether the shortage in batteries will lead to price increases for its fully-assembled laptops.

Eee by gum

Asus Computers, manufacturer of the much sought after Eee PC, is taking an altogether more pessimistic view. A spokesman from the company is reported to have told Reuters that the worldwide battery shortage could affect up to 40 per cent of its second-quarter shipments.

A spokesperson from Hewlett Packard, meanwhile, has said that that HP is “working aggressively within the battery cell industry to secure additional supply of battery cells”.

LG Chem has said that it expects full production to begin again in two to three months. In the meantime we’d expect major manufacturers like Dell to take it on the chin and keep their prices constant, rather than hike them up and risk losing sales.

No doubt the eBay scalpers will have other ideas though.