Ireland’s natural gas market has developed since the discovery of the Kinsale Field in the 1970s. Prior to that there was only manufactured that gas. The network has developed and expanded significantly over the last 45 years. Most large population areas now receive natural gas.
Bord Gáis was incorporated under the Gas Act 1976. Over the subsequent years, work was begun to bring natural gas ashore. In 1977, gas pipelines were constructed to two ESB stations and the NET plant in Arklow.
Gas was first brought ashore from the Kinsale fields at Inch County Cork. It was quickly brought to Dublin where gas power stations were fired. The latter was expanded over the years to cover the major population centres. Dublin converted from town to natural gas in 1970s and ’80s.
Natural gas production began in 1978 and the first deliveries of gas were received. The Dublin Gas pipeline was commissioned and built in the 1981 to1982. A 240 kilometre 24 centimetre diameter pipeline was constructed.
In 1983 the Dublin Gas Company received its first natural gas supplies and began conversion of its 120000 domestic and industrial consumers. In the same year, the ESB power stations in North Wall and Poolbeg were connected to the gas pipeline. Bord Gáis took over the assets of Dublin Gas.
Bord Gáis acquired the stock of Cork Gas in 1985. In the meantime, spur lines to Limerick, Dundalk and Carlow and Waterford were bringing natural gas to the country. The number of domestic customers was expanding considerably.
Through the early 1990s gas sales and the use of gas by industrial, residential and commercial sector continued to grow significantly. Restrictions were introduced on bituminous coal in the early 1990s which gave a further boost to the clean gas image.
In the late 1990s, gas supply continued to expand to towns in the outer suburban belt of Dublin. Bord Gáis’ sales, profitability and customer base continued to expand steadily.
By the late 1990s gas was within the reach of more than half a million households, with gas reaching Navan, Athy, Stradbally, Parteen, Duleek, Portlaoise, Clogherhead, Newport and Ardnacrusha. The number of customers increased to 327000 using gas as a primary fuel.
The Kinsale gas fields had limited resources. In 1995 nearly all of Ireland’s natural gas came from indigenous sources. By 2001, 82 percent came from Great Britain.
An undersea transmission pipe has been brought from Scotland to North Dublin which provides access to UK gas for greater stability. The first gas interconnector was commenced in the early 1990s and the gas network continued to increase to the country. The Bord Gáis entered contracts with a UK gas supplier to expand its single supply source from the Kinsale and Ballycotton fields.
A second interconnector was required and originates from the same UK gas network point and comes ashore at Gormanton County Meath. This also connects with Norths South pipeline and the North West pipeline bringing gas to Northern Ireland and the west part of Northern Ireland including Derry. An eleven kilometres spur was developed from this connector, linking the Isle of Man and bringing gas to it for the first time.
In 2001, Bord Gáis entered the Irish electricity supply market in which it has continued to grow. In 2001, the government made a decision to make £10 million available for development of the northern gas network. Through the 2000s Bord Gáis continued increasing its number of customers and turnover. It commenced and continued to develop in Northern Ireland.
In 2003 the Irish Gas market opened a competition with customers of more than 500,000 standard cubic meters per annum eligible to choose a gas supplier other than Bord Gáis.
The Commission for Energy Regulation commenced in 2002 and changed the environment radically in which Bord Gáis and the ESB operate. Bord Gáis commenced a strategy of being a dual energy provider of both electricity and gas on an all-Ireland basis.
Over €1 billion on infrastructure spend was undertaken in the latter part of the first decade of the 21st century. This included construction of three major projects, the Mayo-Galway pipeline, the Northwest Belfast Derry pipeline and the North-South Dublin Gormanston pipeline.
In 2004, natural gas was extended to five towns on the western pipeline route, including Galway, Athenry, Ballinasloe, Tullamore, and Mullingar. Westport was connected to natural gas in 2008. Gas was extended to other few western towns at the same time.
By 2005 power generation accounted for 60% of total gas use with industrial and commercial use of 24% and residential use of 17%.
In 2005, Bord Gáis’ first national gas customers in Northern Ireland were connected. In 2004 it won the license to distribute and supply ten towns in Northern Ireland through its Northern Ireland entity.
By 2005 number of gas users in Ireland had increased to 540000. By that stage, share of the electricity market reached 8%.
The North-South pipeline from County Meath to Antrim was completed in 2006 as was the Mayo-Galway transmission line.
By the late 2000s Bord Gáis’ turnover had increased to 1.2 billion. Gas sales accounted for two-thirds of turnover. Gas transportation sales increased.
In 2008 Bord Gáis signed up the first natural gas customers in Belfast.