Written answers

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

Energy Resources

Photo of Martin FerrisMartin Ferris (Kerry North-West Limerick, Sinn Fein)
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331. To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if his Department is considering an alternative energy supply for the north Kerry area outside of the LNG project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26635/14]

Photo of Martin FerrisMartin Ferris (Kerry North-West Limerick, Sinn Fein)
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332. To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if his Department has entered negotiations with Shannon LNG and the energy regulator regarding advancing the LNG project in north Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26636/14]

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Minister, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; Dublin South West, Labour)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 331 and 332 together.

The Irish energy market is a liberalised, commercial, regulated market operating in accordance with EU and national legislation. While as Minister I have responsibility for the legislative and policy frameworks, I have no role or function in determining energy market matters, including matters relating to energy supply for the north Kerry area. The development and expansion of the natural gas network is in the first instance a commercial matter for Gaslink, which is mandated by legislation to develop and maintain a national system for the supply of natural gas that is both economical and efficient. The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) is statutorily responsible for all aspects of the assessment and licensing of prospective operators who wish to develop and/or operate a gas distribution system within the State under the Gas (Interim) (Regulation) Act 2002.

The CER’s network connections policy provides that in order for any town to be connected to the gas network, certain economic criteria need to be met as a prerequisite. The policy framework provides that, over a certain period, the costs of connecting the town to the network are recouped through the actual consumption of gas and the associated tariffs. This is designed to obviate against uneconomic projects which would increase costs for all gas consumers.

The progression of electricity generation infrastructure projects is, in the first instance, a matter between the project developer and the relevant planning authority, having regard to the overarching policy and regulatory framework.

Concerning the Shannon LNG proposal, since 2002, the regulation of the gas market has been the responsibility of the CER which is independent in the performance of its functions. I and Government colleagues have consistently been supportive of the proposal by Shannon LNG to construct a LNG terminal near Ballylongford, County Kerry. This LNG facility would bring connectivity for the first time to the global LNG market. The prospect of such a facility is therefore a potentially positive step for the island of Ireland. While neither I nor my Department have any direct role in regard to the project, my officials and I have met with representatives of Shannon LNG to discuss project and EU related issues. The timing of an investment decision by Shannon LNG is a commercial decision for the company.

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