Importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) at a proposed site on the Shannon estuary and a storage facility at Islandmagee in Co Antrim could help reduce prices for consumers, according to research by the Economic and Social Research Institute.
The sites, which have been proposed by the EU as projects that could potentially integrate European energy markets, would help Ireland tap “highly-competitive” world LNG market prices, according to ESRI researchers.
They found that exporting gas into Britain from Ireland could deliver further price benefits.
“This reverse flow can bring further savings for Irish consumers since the transportation costs related to the Moffat [gas pipe line] reverse flow would be paid by consumers in the UK instead of Ireland,” the researchers said.
Environmental group Friends of the Irish Environment, took a court challenge against An Bord Pleanála over planning permission at the Shannon LNG project in Co Kerry and, last month the High Court referred a number of legal issues to the European Court of Justice.
The ESRI research doesn’t focus on environmental questions surrounding LNG but said “due to its versatility and environmental advantages relative to more polluting coal and oil, natural gas contributes towards policy objectives that target environment quality and sustainable development”.
“Gas storage permits Ireland to import and store gas during the summer, when prices are lower, and to consume it during the winter when prices are higher.
Therefore, gas storage assures higher flexibility and more competitive prices for both the Irish and UK gas markets,” the researchers said.