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New £250m pipeline to west offers 40,000 businesses and homes option of natural gas

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CBI NI’s Trevor Lockhart, Danny O’Malley of SGN Natural Gas and Paddy Larkin from Mutual Energy mark end of the project

CBI NI’s Trevor Lockhart, Danny O’Malley of SGN Natural Gas and Paddy Larkin from Mutual Energy mark end of the project

�Philip Magowan/PressEye

CBI NI’s Trevor Lockhart, Danny O’Malley of SGN Natural Gas and Paddy Larkin from Mutual Energy mark end of the project

The main construction phase of a pipeline bringing natural gas to major towns in the west of Northern Ireland has been completed following a £250m investment.

Around 500 jobs were created during the construction of the Gas to the West project, which has the potential to heat up to 40,000 homes and businesses in counties Fermanagh, Tyrone and Londonderry.

The final piece of the new network was commissioned in December with natural gas now available to Artigarvan, Coalisland, Cookstown, Derrylin, Dungannon, Enniskillen, Magherafelt, Omagh and Strabane.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds has welcomed provision of the new gas infrastructure.

She said: "I would like to congratulate Mutual Energy and SGN Natural Gas, and their contractors, on their success in delivering this significant energy project.

"The project has been supported with grant funding up to £31.6m administered by the Department for the Economy.

"I look forward to the continued rollout of new gas distribution networks in each of the eight towns in the west, eventually providing some 40,000 business and domestic consumers with additional fuel choice and increasing the potential for businesses, the public sector and households to use a cleaner, more efficient fuel."

An event was held in Dungannon yesterday to mark the conclusion of the work.

Manufacturing companies who have already converted production lines to natural gas across the newly extended network area include Lakeland Dairies, Encirc, Dale Farm, Moy Park and Linergy.

SGN Natural Gas director Danny O'Malley said there was "exceptional demand" for natural gas and he looked forward to the future growth of the network.

"The project originated from a need to offer an alternative energy choice to consumers in the west who have been heavily reliant on solid fuel and oil," he added.

"As natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel available, it can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as offer a more efficient fuel option to businesses, the public sector and domestic consumers.

"By enabling businesses to drive efficiency savings, we can potentially help them to be more competitive in both local and global markets.

"Converting to natural gas will allow businesses to reduce their carbon emissions, significantly reducing their footprint on the environment."

Paddy Larkin, chief executive of Mutual Energy, which owns and operates the new pipeline, said: "The new gas network also can play an integral role in the future decarbonisation agenda and minimising the environmental impact."

Mutual Energy and SGN were awarded licences by the Utility Regulator to build and operate the pipeline following a competitive process.

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