Belfast Telegraph

Phoenix flexes muscles with Southern gas deal

By Symon Ross

Northern Ireland gas supplier Phoenix is hoping to shake up the Republic's gas market after signing up one of the South's largest energy users.

The company announced that it has signed a contract to supply gas to Premier Periclase Ltd, a leading producer of Magnesia products, as well as securing several large business customers in recent months.

Phoenix, which entered the Republic's gas market in late 2009, said Premier Periclase is the first customer among the largest industrial gas users in Ireland to switch suppliers away from state-owned Bord Gais.

The move means the firm now supplies the whole island, apart from the 10 towns outside Belfast supplied by Firmus, which Phoenix is not allowed to compete in until at least 2011.

David Strahan, managing director of new supply company Phoenix Energy Ltd, said: "We only commenced supplying gas in the South in November 2009 and to have secured one of the largest energy users in Ireland so soon is testament to our commitment to deliver unrivalled customer service and lower energy costs as we do already to over 130,000 customers in the North."

Pat McCleery, managing director of Premier Periclase Ltd added: "Energy is the largest cost for our business and as we operate in international markets ensuring we have the lowest possible energy costs is vital to maintain the competitiveness of Premier Periclase.

"Following a rigorous selection process, the package offered by Phoenix Energy provided the greatest flexibility, cost efficiency and quality of service that is required to sustain confidence into the future."

The Republic's Energy Minister Eamon Ryan TD welcomed the introduction of further competition in the country's energy market.

"The more competition there is, the better it is for all consumers of energy. I am committed to lower energy costs, and more competition is one of the best ways to achieve these lower costs," he said.

Mr Strahan said Belfast-based Phoenix's target when entering the Southern gas market was a 30% share of the big industrial energy users within three years.

After already achieving a 25% market share in this part of the market, he said it has upped its targets to 50% within three years and is actively pursuing contracts with a number of other large energy users.

He also said the gas supplier had been "inundated" with requests to also start supplying the smaller business and domestic sectors in the Republic and is considering entering these markets in 2011.

Phoenix is owned by private equity firm Terra Firma, which also owns music label EMI and the Odeon cinema chain.

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