Gas goes west

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 4th March 2015 - Picture by Kelvin Boyes  / Press Eye 

Gas to the West moves a step closer.

The prospect of bringing gas to up to 40,000 new customers in the west of Northern Ireland moved closer today.  At a launch in Enniskillen it was announced that two companies, Mutual Energy and SGN, have now been awarded conveyance licences to extend the natural gas network. 

Pictured at the launch are John Morea, SGN Chief Executive; Jenny Pyper, Chief Executive of the Utility Regulator; Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster and Paddy Larkin, Chief Executive, Mutual Energy. The ambitious project to bring natural gas to homes and businesses in the west of Northern Ireland is now under way.

The £250 million Gas to the West project aims to connect approximately 40,000 domestic has been launched in Enniskillen. This will extend the natural gas network to cover Strabane, Magherafelt, Omagh, Coalisland, Cookstown, Derrylin, Dungannon and Enniskillen, with Strabane expected to be linked to the network (from Derry) later next year.

Following a competitive tendering process, the Utility Regulator awarded Mutual Energy Limited and SGN the licences to own and operate the high and low pressure gas pipelines respectively. Utility Regulator Chief Executive Jenny Pyper remarked: “We are delighted to have reached this stage and I congratulate Mutual Energy and SGN on being awarded the licences.” She added: “This is a further vote of confidence in the natural gas industry. It is also a welcome new investment in our energy infrastructure.”

The main extensions to the network are expected to be put in place by 2017. An estimated 200km of pipeline will connect the towns to the existing network, while 500km of gas mains and services will be constructed within them. The project is supported by £32.5 million from the Executive and its construction phase is set to sustain an estimated 200 jobs. Upon completion, the extended network and infrastructure will also create jobs for installation sub-contractors and others.

Mutual Energy’s Chief Executive, Paddy Larkin, commented: “We already have an experienced and dedicated project team in place and look forward to moving toward the next phase of the project so we can start delivering the benefits of natural gas to homes and business in this part of Northern Ireland.” As an energy source, natural gas is reliable, versatile, efficient and affordable as well as being the cleanest of the fossil fuels.

Initial construction will commence on the Strabane pipeline later this year, followed by a link westwards from Portadown in 2016 and the final stretch to be started in 2018.

After its completion, the project will result in the majority of Northern Ireland being linked to the gas network. Speaking at its launch, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster welcomed the project’s development and stated: “It will bring greater energy choice for consumers and increase the potential for businesses and the public sector to use more efficient fuel.”

She continued: “I look forward to the developers moving to the next stages of detailed design, planning permission and other approvals in advance of construction work commencing.”

The Mutual Energy-SGN partnership will now undertake a process of environmental survey and consultation with landowners, alongside continued collaboration with environmental consultants and government.

SGN’s Chief Executive, John Morea, said: “We have a strong reputation for operational excellence in both safety and delivery of infrastructure projects and we look forward to working closely with our partners, and all stakeholders concerned, on this exciting project.”

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