15th January 2018
A seminar convened by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten to review the criteria for the connection of rural towns to the natural gas grid, has concluded.
The seminar examined the Study, commissioned by the Minister, into the wider economic costs and benefits of potential extensions of the Irish natural gas network. In addition to this seminar Minister Naughten has welcomed the confirmation that Gas Networks Ireland has sought tenders to construct a new gas pipeline from Athlone to the Centre Parcs project in Ballymahon.
"The construction of the 21km pipeline from Athlone to Ballymahon will allow for further extensions of the pipeline to Longford in the near future and has the potential to be extended to other local towns," stated Minister Naughten.
Minister Denis Naughten has added that "the network should be developed generally in rural Ireland to provide natural gas to as many areas as possible, where it's economical and efficient to do so. The contribution that network extensions could make to regional and rural development must be examined and this is what the Study will do."
The Study will also explore the possible benefits for decarbonisation, air quality, climate and emissions that network extensions could bring.
Any extension is a commercial matter for Gas Networks Ireland (GNI), and GNI is obliged under the Gas Acts to develop the system in a manner that is both economical and efficient.
Minister Naughten added: "Certain economic criteria need to be met, ensuring that the costs of new connections to the network are recouped through the actual consumption of gas and the associated tariffs, so that the general gas consumer does not bear the cost of uneconomic extensions. Last September I commissioned a study, which KPMG is undertaking, and this work is well underway. The Study will make an important analytical contribution to future policy development."
Minister Naughten added: "This Study is a technical analysis and given its nature and the fact that it is the first such exercise of its kind to be undertaken in Ireland, today's seminar provided information on the study to key stakeholders. Some of the groups that attended included local authorities, chambers of commerce, energy suppliers, the Western Development Commission and Energy Ireland. The seminar focused on how we look to extend natural gas to more towns, particularly in the Midlands and West of Ireland," concluded Minister Denis Naughten.
The Study is the first such exercise of its kind to
have been undertaken in Ireland, and will
examine certain factors such as the contribution that network extensions could
make to regional and rural development, and the possible benefits for
decarbonisation, air quality, climate and emissions that network extensions
could bring. The Study is a technical analysis and will not examine
specific towns or regions. It will better position policy-makers to decide on the
next steps for policy options for consideration, including consultation -
if appropriate - after it has been completed and its results assessed.
The final KPMG study and technical analysis will be delivered by the end of February 2018.