Long-running plans to bring a gas pipeline into North Kerry to power the Kerry Group plant in Listowel are on the point of realisation in an agreement between the multinational food company and Gas Networks Ireland.
News of the project has been welcomed as a major boost for employment at the Kerry Ingredients plant as well as for the domestic energy needs of Listowel town.
Gas Networks Ireland is on the point of signing a contract with Kerry Group to deliver the fuel in a move that will allow the food firm to establish a 'combined heat and power' (CHP) plant on their Listowel site, The Kerryman understands.
"This is very welcome news for Kerry Group and I've been working on the project over the past three years," Minister Jimmy Deenihan told The Kerryman this week.
The gas is to be piped into the Kerry Group site from a point on the transmission system south of Aughinish along a special 'distribution' line.
It does not mean the gas grid is being extended into North Kerry, but Minister Deenihan believes it will allow for domestic connections in Listowel in time.
Crucially, it will allow Kerry Group establish the CHP power-generating facility in the Listowel factory where 480 are employed.
"This will provide for most of the company's energy needs in a way that will support the hundreds of jobs there," Minister Deenihan said.
Kerry Group Director of Corporate Affairs Frank Hayes said the gas supply will bring Listowel into line with its sister plant of Charleville. "All going according to plan, the CHP plant could be commissioned by mid 2018," Mr Hayes said.
Laying of the gas pipe is expected to begin in mid 2017.