Sunday 17 June 2007

Bord Gáis launches Gaswest Project

Bord Gáis have unveiled the Gaswest Project - a €40 million, three-year development project for the West of Ireland, making natural gas available to eleven towns along the Mayo-Galway Transmission Pipeline.

Representatives of Bord Gáis Networks met with Mayo County Council to outline the first phase of the construction programme for the Gaswest Project, which will see work commence in Castlebar and Westport next month.

Bord Gáis expects to have the first gas in Castlebar by December 2007 and in Westport by March 2008. Connections will then be rolled-out during the following months. Work in Headford and Craughwell in Co Galway will commence in August 2007 with gas available to these towns in 2008.

The remaining seven towns of Athenry and Tuam in Co Galway - and Ballina, Ballyhaunis, Claremorris, Crossmolina and Knock in Co Mayo - are subject to tender and local authority agreement, but are expected to receive gas during 2008 and 2009. Bord Gáis remains committed to commencing construction as soon as possible. In some towns, advance works will be carried out in the coming months to co-ordinate with town business plans.

Fiona Lally, Gaswest Project Manager, confirmed the company's plans stating - "This is an important project for the West of Ireland, with the availability of natural gas and its benefits to many parts of the region for the first time. The response from local authorities to the construction programme has been very positive and we will continue to liaise with local authorities, businesses and residents throughout the process to ensure that they are kept informed and disruption is kept to a minimum."

In 2006, Bord Gáis obtained approval from the CER (Commission for Energy Regulation) for a new Connections Policy. The Policy contained revised economic criteria by which gas network extensions are evaluated. On completion of a study to assess the towns along the Mayo-Galway Pipeline Corridor, eleven towns that previously proved unsuitable for a network extension now qualify under the new policy.

The Mayo-Galway transmission pipeline greatly improved the potential viability of towns along the route. Towns that do not meet the current criteria, as outlined by the CER, will be kept under review by Bord Gáis Networks.

Mark Holohan, Connection Sales Manager, added - "Natural gas is the fuel of choice for 575,000 homes and businesses throughout the country. For the first time, residents and businesses in these eleven towns can also avail of this competitively-priced, clean, convenient fuel. Bord Gáis Networks is responsible for connecting all gas customers to the pipeline and connection advisors will be available in all towns to advise people on the methods of converting to natural gas."

In November 2006, Bord Gáis announced the extension of the natural gas network to eleven towns along the route of the new Mayo-Galway pipeline (Click Here). The decision was approved by the Commission for Energy Regulation and endorsed by the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Noel Dempsey TD.

This announcement followed the completion of Phase 1 of the New Towns Analysis report undertaken by Bord Gáis. This study evaluated the viability of connecting towns along the route of the new Bord Gáis Mayo-Galway gas transmission pipeline that was completed in October 2006 to a point south of the proposed gas terminal.

The eleven new towns that will be connected are - Athenry, Craughwell, Headford and Tuam in Co. Galway and Ballina, Ballyhaunis, Castlebar, Claremorris, Crossmolina, Knock and Westport in Co. Mayo. The total capital expenditure involved in bringing gas to these towns will be approximately €40m.

A number of towns in Co. Mayo and Co. Galway that had previously proved uneconomic, qualified for connection to the natural gas network under the terms of the new Gas Connections Policy approved by the Commission for Energy Regulation in April 2006. This Policy revised the criteria by which gas network extensions are evaluated and prompted a study by Bord Gáis of the viability of connecting new towns to the gas network.

The completion of the Mayo-Galway pipeline greatly improved the potential viability of towns along the pipeline route and these were evaluated in Phase 1 of the study. The co-operation and assistance of county officials in both Mayo and Galway played a key role in the successful outcome of the evaluation.

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