Monday 11 December 2017

Gas pipelines to be upgraded amid Brexit fears

An upgrade to a section of pipeline with Scotland will allow for flows to continue in the event of a technical problem. Stock image
An upgrade to a section of pipeline with Scotland will allow for flows to continue in the event of a technical problem. Stock image
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

UPGRADES to a pipeline between Scotland and Ireland will enhance security of gas supply post Brexit.

Head of Legal and Regulatory Affairs at Gas Networks Ireland, Claire Madden, said the network operator was planning for a hard Brexit but that "anything short of that can be managed".

Gas comprises some 27pc of total energy supply, and is used to produce more than 40pc of electricity. The Corrib Gas field off Co Mayo supplies around 50pc of total needs, but from 2025, 85pc of gas will be imported from the UK through three pipelines orginating at Moffat in Scotland - two linking directly with the Republic, and a third to Northern Ireland.

"It's fair to say that hard, soft or otherwise, we're looking at it closely but there isn't an overriding concern," Ms Madden said.

"Our working assumption is it will be hard Brexit, and anything short of that can be managed. There are issues in relation to security of supply."

She said an upgrade to a section of pipeline with Scotland allow for flows to continue in the event of a technical problem.

There were "potential" issues if new EU regulations were introduced which the UK or Northern Ireland might not implement, which could require Ireland to seek derogations.

One possible scenario involves a requirement where member states must ensure that in the event of a disruption to the single piece of gas infrastructure, that the remaining infrastructure can satisfy total gas demand on a day of "exceptionally high demand".

"We have complied with that on a regional basis," she said. "The test has been if Ireland and the UK lost that, would there be sufficient gas to meet demand? There is, at a regional level. At an individual level we wouldn't meet that standard given the flow from the UK is our largest infeed.

"We comply with European requirements currently, and the basis on which we have compiled is on a regional basis. There may be some issues with compliance but we believe we can get around those."

A worst-case scenario would involve the imposition of tariffs, but these were unlikely to arise, she added.

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