Firmus Gas to begin Foyle pipeline project
Firmus Gas is set to put a massive gas pipe line under the River Foyle in Londonderry this weekend, in what is being billed as one of the biggest and longest gas drilling projects in Ireland.
The £3m River Foyle Crossing project will see the entire city supplied with gas.
Engineers will pull a 660-metre, 65 tonne-pipe from the Thornhill area of the cityside underneath the River Foyle to Strathfoyle in the Waterside in a mammoth 10-hour operation that will begin shortly before 3am on Saturday morning.
Over the last seven months a multi-million pound drill, with a £90,000 one-use drill head, has bored deep underneath the river.
Seven hundred metres of steel rods have been put underneath the river bed at a depth of 25 metres.
On Saturday morning the rods will be pulled out as the two-inch thick pipe - currently stretched out across school grounds and fields on the outskirts of the city - is pushed through.
The operation has not been without its hitches. Drilling is occurring near the old Second World War jetty where Germany's U-boats surrendered.
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Two weeks ago engineers snagged an unexploded war-time projectile in the river which had to be pulled to deeper water and safely blown up.
Speaking about the drilling project, Firmus Gas construction manager Jonathan Strain said it was a good news story for the city.
"This move means continuity of supply, the network is now complete and there is guaranteed supply for the next 50 years of natural gas in Derry," Mr Strain added.
"This project started around two and a half years ago and values in at around £4m.
"This is a fantastic news story for Derry. It means that natural gas is available to a lot more people.
"We can expand the network out to further parts of the city."