Press Releases
04 March 2013 - Gas storage company to hold two information events PDF Print E-mail

Islandmagee Storage Ltd, the company developing the opportunity for the £400m investment in gas storage on Islandmagee, is planning an additional public information event in the Spring with the originally-planned Summer event rescheduled for the Autumn.

Paddy Larkin, Director of Islandmagee Storage Ltd said: “After a recent, useful and constructive meeting with local residents and other key stakeholders, including members of the marine community, we have decided to organise two public information events this year – the first in the Spring, followed by a second updated event in the Autumn, prior to the drilling of an appraisal borehole.

“These stakeholder and public engagement events are being organised completely independently from any consultation process which is currently ongoing by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) in relation to the marine licences which are required for the offshore elements of the project.”

Speaking about the various permissions required to enable the project and the communication of information, Mr Larkin said: “When the project was granted planning permission and a gas storage licence last October we explained that further consents and confirmation of the regulatory framework would be required for the project to proceed.

“Since October the project has been granted a mineral licence from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, which is a requirement to drill the initial appraisal well, and a number of marine licence applications have been submitted to the NIEA. These licences are just some of the further consents needed before the project can proceed to full construction and operation.

“Originally we had planned to hold a single information event to coincide with commencement of drilling the initial appraisal well. This drilling is not now expected to take place until the end of the year and remains subject to confirmation of an appropriate regulatory framework. In the interim civil engineering works will be undertaken to create the site from which to drill the well.

“To avoid an extended period between communications - and to augment the previous public information events and distribution across Islandmagee of our project booklet ‘proposed construction explained’ – we feel it would be beneficial to present again some of the fundamental details relating to the scheme.

“Islandmagee Storage Ltd is fully committed to working with all interested parties in an open and transparent fashion throughout the project’s development and is pleased to hold these information events to give interested parties the opportunity to put any questions or concerns they may have directly to the company in either a public or private forum.”

Details on the next public information event – including the exact date and location - will be advertised across Islandmagee, in the local press and on the company’s website nearer the time.

Speaking about the company’s plans to set up a dedicated stakeholder liaison group for the project, Mr Larkin continued: “Over the coming few months Islandmagee Storage Ltd will be setting up a project liaison group, which stakeholder groups and representatives from the local residential community will be invited to join. The main objective for the group will be to ensure that during construction and subsequent operation of the facility, the company and the community work together to minimise the impact of the facility on its neighbours. Islandmagee Storage Ltd is fully committed to promoting open communication between all parties and the group will provide a forum for the company to share information about the construction activities and marine monitoring programme.”

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18 October 2012 - Department of Environment Press Release PDF Print E-mail


18 October 2012

£400m gas storage project a major boost to the Northern Ireland economy - Attwood

Environment Minister Alex Attwood today announced planning approval to facilitate a £400 million subsea natural gas storage facility a mile beneath Larne Lough.

The approved development will allow for storage for 500 million cubic metres of natural gas in caverns beneath Larne Lough. Unlike other developed economies Northern Ireland does not have significant energy storage. This bank will provide security of supply of energy in Northern Ireland for around sixty days.

This is important for a number of reasons. The supply of energy comes from some volatile areas in the world. Northern Ireland has no natural gas storage and depends wholly on gas imports to meet its needs. When energy prices significantly rise, this bank can be used to supply cheaper gas and then the bank can buy in cheaper gas later. Also, we will be relying more and more on wind power and when wind is not of sufficient strength the storage facility can provide the necessary energy. What’s more, the Larne area is the only location in Ireland where suitable Permian aged salt exists to store the gas. This also means that Northern Ireland will be able to export gas as well as import.

Alex Attwood said: “This security of supply of energy will be a significant step forward in the way we manage our energy sector. North Sea gas supplies are declining steeply and this facility will make a significant contribution to the security of gas supplies for the whole island of Ireland and indeed for Britain.

“Further, gas storage has the potential to reduce volatility in energy prices – gas can be purchased for storage when prices are low for use or sale when prices are higher. This is important for Northern Ireland’s future economic development.

“This project will see a major economic boost to the area. There is no doubt that constructing storage for 500 million cubic metres of gas a mile below the sea, will create construction and longer term jobs.

“I am very conscious that there are environmental concerns about this. However there has been an exhaustive consultation process and I am satisfied that that this proposal can obtain other relevant consents and proceed in a way that creates jobs and develops the economy whilst protecting the environment.

“We have demonstrated that energy, environmental and economic needs can be reconciled successfully. SeaGen, the birthplace of modern tidal energy sitting in the Narrows in the mouth of Strangford Lough proves this point. This approval can do the same.”

The Minister concluded: “This decision brings to a conclusion a planning process that began in 2010. As with all major applications currently under assessment by my Department, both in Larne and other areas of the North, I intend to clear the backlog and make decisions swiftly, but only after giving careful consideration to the individual merits of each case.”

Energy Minister Arlene Foster has welcomed the decision by the Department of the Environment.

Minister Foster said: “Today’s announcement is an important milestone in the development of an underground gas storage facility below Larne Lough.

“Natural gas is used to fuel two of Northern Ireland’s power stations and also by an increasing number of business and domestic energy consumers. As we currently have no natural gas storage facility this is a strategically important project as it will enhance our security of energy supply.

“All our natural gas is imported from Great Britain and as the UK is now a net importer of natural gas, a gas storage facility in Northern Ireland is of great benefit.

“We are fortunate that East Antrim’s geology means that there are salt formations deep underground which can be converted to caverns to store gas. The development of a gas storage facility will help us to meet our energy supply demands.

Arlene Foster continued: “I also welcome the news that the Utility Regulator has granted a licence for the project. Today’s announcements by both the Department of the Environment and the Utility Regulator will encourage the developers to move to the next stage.

“Infrastructure investment of this nature is very welcome and the project will provide a significant benefit to the local economy by providing jobs related to the construction stages of the project and in the longer term as the facility commences operation.”

18 October 2012 - Planning approval granted for major energy project PDF Print E-mail

Islandmagee Storage Limited ("IMSL") is pleased to announce that planning approval has been granted for its £400 million natural gas storage facility at Islandmagee, Co Antrim. The facility, when operational will have the capability to store 500 million cubic metres of natural gas - enough to satisfy Northern Ireland’s peak demand for around 60 days - in Permian salt beds almost a mile beneath Larne Lough. The project has the potential to create around 200 construction jobs during its seven-year development, and 20-30 long-term operational posts which would provide a much needed economic boost for the East Antrim area.

IMSL spokesperson, Paddy Larkin commented: “We are delighted that planning permission has been secured for this economically and strategically important energy project. Northern Ireland currently has no natural gas storage and relies wholly on gas imports to meet its heating and power generation needs. This facility will make a significant contribution to security of energy supplies as well as helping to meet the greater short-term demands placed on the gas network to support increased intermittent renewable generation.”

He continued: “Achieving planning approval is a major milestone along the route to realising this project. We now look forward to working with the Government and regulatory authorities north and south, and in Great Britain, to deliver another critical component, the regulatory environment essential to allow the project to proceed in a timely fashion, and to ensure it can operate on a level playing field with gas storage elsewhere on these islands.

Our initial activity will be the drilling of the first borehole from the site in order to recover samples of the Permian salt, which are required to finalise the design of the caverns and confirm the necessary data to support the consenting process for the marine aspects of the project.”

Site preparation work on the first borehole is due to begin in late 2012, with drilling planned, subject to confirmation on regulatory framework for the project, for the first half of 2013. Construction of the project, which is expected to involve the creation of seven caverns in the Permian salt layer at a depth of 1,500 metres, is projected to take around seven years to complete.

IMSL has consulted extensively on the project with the local community and will continue to meet with residents to discuss issues in relation to the project. A further information event will be organised for early 2013, prior to the first borehole drilling, to provide another opportunity for the local community and other key stakeholders to meet the project team, and review the plans for the project including the timing of construction activity.

A commitment has also been given by IMSL to set up a Charitable Trust as part of a unilateral undertaking contribution. A dedicated Community Liaison Consultant for the Trust has been in place for some time, working with local residents to gather ideas for Trust support, once full funding for the project is in place.

For more information about the Trust and the project please visit the Islandmagee Storage Project website.

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20 January 2012 - Islandmagee gas storage project takes a step forward PDF Print E-mail

The Directors of Islandmagee Storage Limited (“IMSL”) are pleased to announce that the Company has entered into agreements with BP Gas Marketing Limited (“BPGM”) regarding the appraisal of the Islandmagee gas storage facility development project in County Antrim, and the grant of an option to BPGM to acquire a 50.495% equity interest in IMSL, currently owned by InfraStrata UK Limited (“InfraStrata”) and Moyle Energy Investments Limited ("Moyle"). Should the option be exercised InfraStrata’s equity interest in IMSL will become 32.178% and the remaining 17.327% will be owned by Moyle.

Under the terms of a Joint Appraisal Agreement, BPGM has agreed to fund the activities necessary to develop the project, including the drilling of a test borehole, up to the point where a decision can be made on whether to proceed with its detailed engineering design. The undertaking of these activities is subject to IMSL being granted satisfactory planning permission and other key permissions, approvals and consents for the project, and a regulatory and operational framework being adopted by the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland authorities to facilitate commercial operations of the facility on a level playing field with storage elsewhere in the UK and Ireland.

During this appraisal stage of the project BPGM will be responsible for managing surface and sub-surface engineering matters. IMSL will be managing the planning, regulatory, land and stakeholder relations, together with drilling and operating the well.

Commenting on the agreements, Andrew Hindle, Director of IMSL said:

“We are delighted that BPGM will be working with IMSL to develop the project through its next important stage. The BPGM team bring considerable commercial skills to the project and most importantly experience from the construction of salt cavern gas storage in continental Europe.

Assuming planning permission is granted in the first half of 2012, it is hoped that the well could be spudded before the end of the year.

It is an important milestone for the Northern Ireland gas industry bringing the development of its first gas storage facilities, with significant security benefits, one step closer to realisation.”

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