The Gas to the West project was conceived to bring the benefits of natural gas to the towns of Coalisland, Cookstown, Dungannon, Derrylin, Enniskillen, Magherafelt, Omagh and Strabane and followed years of campaigning from many interested parties.
Building the new natural gas network – one of the most significant energy infrastructure projects in Northern Ireland – has been a huge undertaking but one that brings many opportunities for residents and businesses in the network area – delivering a much cleaner and more competitive and convenient energy source to the area.
Following a competitive tender process, triggered by the Department for the Economy and managed by the Utility Regulator the contract was awarded to a joint bid from Mutual Energy Ltd (MEL) and SGN Natural Gas on the basis of their combined expertise and delivery capabilities as well as delivering the project at the least possible cost to customers. MEL was granted the license to own and operate the gas transmission assets (the cross-country high-pressure pipeline) and SGN Natural Gas the license for the distribution assets (the intermediate and low pressure pipelines in the roads and connections to customer premises). The Department also committed a grant up to £32 million to support delivery of the high pressure element of the project.
Following careful consideration to maximise the benefits, minimise the disruption and futureproof the networks capability, a design was agreed that involved a 78km cross country high pressure pipeline from Portadown to Fivemiletown, with three offtakes that would link to approximately 112km of intermediate pressure pipelines that would bring gas to all the targeted town gates. Additionally, an offtake at Maydown from the existing North West gas pipeline would feed a 30km intermediate pipeline to feed the Strabane area.
Since construction began in 2015, there have been many exciting discoveries and complexities addressed along the way, including archaeological digs, key river crossings and unpredictable adverse weather conditions.
Communication and positive relationship building has been crucial in successfully delivering the new network. There has been extensive engagement throughout with key stakeholders, councils and local communities involved in all aspects of the construction phase. The partnership between our teams and the local communities we serve is paramount and we greatly appreciate all the patience, support and cooperation shown during the project.
Delivering Gas to the West has been an exhilarating experience for all those who have worked on the various stages from planning to commissioning. This project will benefit thousands of energy customers across the west of Northern Ireland for generations to come, and we look forward to strengthening our bonds in these vibrant and welcoming towns in the future.
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