|16 October 2013 - EU Boost for Islandmagee Gas Storage Project|
A £400million gas storage project at Islandmagee in County Antrim has just been given a major boost by the European Union. The project, which involves the creation of underground caverns in salt to store up to two month’s worth of Northern Ireland’s total gas requirement, has been given “Project of Common Interest” (PCI) status by the European Commission and included on a Europe‐wide list of the most important energy projects.
“Project of Common Interest” status means recognition by the European authorities that the Islandmagee gas storage project brings benefits not only to the Member State in which it is located, but to a much wider area. It means confirmation that the project is important at a European level.
PCI status is not just a well‐earned accolade. PCI status means that the project must be given priority and quick passage by relevant Member States in the permitting process, and cooperation in its development. It also means the project is eligible to apply for significant financial support from the European Union – this may be in the form of direct grant or other forms of financial backing from institutions such as the European Investment Bank.
The Islandmagee project is being developed in a joint venture between lead partner, UK independent oil and gas company InfraStrata plc and local energy infrastructure company Mutual Energy.
Chief Executive of Mutual Energy, Paddy Larkin said,
“We are delighted that the outstanding benefits of this gas storage project have been recognised by way of PCI designation. This shows that the contribution this project can make to energy security of supply and system flexibility in Ireland North and South, and in Britain, has been recognised objectively by Europe. Essentially Europe is saying that this project will benefit energy consumers on these islands and national authorities should ensure that it goes ahead. ”
Mr Larkin continued, “This direct message from Europe is timely as perhaps the biggest challenge facing Islandmagee Gas Storage is getting the regulatory environment right for a project that crosses a number of jurisdictions. Europe’s support can only help with creating transparent, fair interjurisdictional regulation for gas storage. These issues were first consulted on in June 2011 and it is essential that the Regulatory Authorities in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland finally bring this process to a conclusion. rdquo;
Chief Executive of InfraStrata plc, Andrew Hindle said,
“It is worth noting that this is the only gas storage project in the UK to have been designated a ‘Project of Common Interest’. This reflects the very advantageous location at Islandmagee which offers a uniquely favourable geology for gas storage, as well as close proximity to strong points on the gas and electricity networks. PCI status tells us that we have a very worthwhile project and that national authorities should provide every reasonable assistance in its development.”