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Written Answers. - Natural Gas Grid.

Wednesday, 27 March 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 551 No. 3

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 123. Mr. G. Reynolds Information on Gerry Reynolds Zoom on Gerry Reynolds  asked the Minister for Public Enterprise Information on Mary O'Rourke Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  following the statement in Dáil Éireann on 21 March 2002 by a Minister of State in her Department concerning the provision of natural gas to Sligo, the cost of the pipeline to Sligo; the towns it will serve between Ballinconnick, County Mayo, and Sligo; and the timeframe for the completion of the gas line. [10487/02]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise (Mr. Jacob): Information on Joe Jacob Zoom on Joe Jacob The Government's decision to extend the gas transmission system to Sligo via Ballina from the proposed Mayo to Galway pipeline recognises that the extension would not be viable on the basis of anticipated gas demand and that considerable grant aid would be required. The provision of such grant aid raises issues relating to EU state aid and procurement rules. My Department has already been in touch with Commission officials on the matter. The right to construct the pipeline will be established in an open tendering process. The next step in moving the project forward involves carrying out detailed engineering and planning work in order to establish a firm estimate of the capital costs. As this work will also define the optimum pipeline routing, it is not possible to say which towns it will serve between the Galway and Sligo, other than to say that the pipeline routing would be the shortest and most economical path with due consideration for environmental factors and ground conditions.

In view of the fact that Bord Gáis is likely to tender for the project, it is necessary to have the planning and costings carried out independently of them. This task will be carried out by consultants to be engaged by my Department. Terms of reference for the task are being drawn up and the normal EU public procurement rules will apply. This phase should be completed by the end of the year and the Government will be able to make a decision on grant aid. It is only then that the full development of the project can be put out to tender. The tendering process and the remaining phases in pipeline projects of this scale, obtaining the necessary wayleaves and statutory consents and constructing and commissioning the pipeline usually take at least a further two years to complete.

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