Gas to the West opens for bidders

Arlene Foster and Jenny Pyper Utility Regulator Jenny Pyper has launched the competition to extend the gas network into the west of Northern Ireland.

The long-awaited project will cover Strabane, Omagh, Enniskillen, Derrylin, Dungannon, Coalisland, Cookstown and Magherafelt, and therefore up to 40,000 new customers.

The Executive will contribute £32 million to the overall cost which is expected to exceed £200 million. The licences are to be awarded in October 2014 and the deadline for applications is noon on 6 May. A finishing date has not yet been announced but this is envisaged within the next five years.

“This expansion is a vote of confidence in the natural gas industry in Northern Ireland,” Pyper said. “This significant investment will provide choice, strengthen the competiveness of the Northern Ireland energy market and promote further investment.”

Enterprise Minster Arlene Foster welcomed the announcement and added: “I also look forward to the contribution to the local economy which will be provided by construction works to lay new gas pipes and connect energy consumers to the gas network.”

The regulator also published six responses to a consultation on the project which it held last year, from Bord Gáis Networks, the Consumer Council, the Federation of Small Business, firmus energy, Phoenix Natural Gas and United Dairy Farmers. Two other responses were received but remain confidential.

Enquiries about the project can be sent to: gastothewest@uregni.gov.uk

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