Gas companies' close relationship encourages co-operation
The companies selected to bring gas to eight towns in counties Londonderry, Tyrone and Fermanagh have already worked together. Mutual Energy Ltd owns and operates the Scotland-Northern Ireland gas pipeline and the Belfast gas transmission pipeline.
In 2011 it signed a new maintenance and emergency response contract covering its gas pipelines with Scotia Gas Networks (SGN).
However, the Moyle Interconnector – which links the electricity grids of Scotland and Northern Ireland but operates only at 50% capacity due to a long-running fault – is not part of the arrangement.
Mutual Energy is a company limited by guarantee which holds energy infrastructure assets for the benefit of the energy consumers.
SGN is the second largest gas distribution network in the UK serving around 5.8 million homes in Scotland and the south and south-east of England.
It delivers gas to cities such as London, Glasgow and Edinburgh as well as more remote areas in Scotland, such as Stornoway and Oban.
It was formed in 2005 and is owned by three shareholders – SSE plc (50%), Borealis Infrastructure Europe (UK) Limited (25%) and Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board (25%).
In it latest cooperation, SGN will lay the high pressure transmission pipeline on behalf of Mutual Energy while Mutual Energy will be the transmission licence holder.
SGN will install the low pressure distribution infrastructure in the eight towns and hold the distribution licence.
A spokeswoman from SGN said: "Low pressure is about taking gas from the high pressure pipeline, and reducing it to a suitable pressure to provide to homes and businesses."
Economist John Simpson said he expected SGN intended to grow its commercial interests in Northern Ireland even further in the years to come.