Ireland unable to meet EU regulation on gas supplies

Ireland is not able to meet an EU regulation to guarantee gas supplies for at least 30 days in the event of disruption to the single largest piece of gas infrastructure during the winter, according to a report by the energy regulator.

A risk assessment on the security of gas supplies here estimated that up to 93% of the country’s gas needs would not be met in the event of an extreme case — a failure at a gas installation at Ballough near Loughshinny, Co Dublin.

This is the terminal for one of two undersea pipelines linking Ireland with Moffat in western Scotland, through which most of Ireland’s gas requirements pass from its link with Britain’s national gas grid.

Bord Gáis estimated that it could take two months to restore the facility in the event of such a failure.

The Commission for Energy Regulation’s Preventive Action Plan 2012-2014 notes that Ireland is not able to meet the “N-1” criteria in the short-term. It requires EU member states to ensure there is enough capacity to meet gas demand in the event of the largest piece of gas infrastructure going offline during a period of high demand.

However, the report notes that the risk of the infrastructure carrying gas supplies from Moffat to the Republic failing is extremely low. It estimated the likelihood of a loss of the installation at Ballough at 3.56 in 10 million over a 20-year period.

However, the likelihood of a failure at either of two compressor stations at Brighouse Bay and Beattock in south-east Scotland, which could disrupt up to 81% of Irish gas supplies, is estimated at just over 1 in 1,000.

An analysis of 14 possible failures between the Moffat entry point and onshore gas facilities in the Republic identified 10 cases which posed a risk to gas supplies.

Bord Gáis estimated it would take a minimum of seven days to address several of the failures and up to two months in the event of the loss of gas installations at either Ballough or at Gormanston, Co Meath.

However, the CER noted the potential loss of gas supplies would be mitigated by the fact that all electricity plants whose primary fuel is gas are obliged to be able to run on a secondary fuel.

The regulator claims the potential impact of such failures will change significantly when projects like the Corrib gas field comes on stream.

Approximately 95% of the Republic’s gas requirements comes through Moffat.

Other projects which should lower Ireland’s dependence on gas imports from the UK include an expansion of an offshore gas storage facility near Kinsale, Co Cork, and the development of a liquid national gas terminal at Ballylongford, Co Kerry, as well as controversial proposals to explore supplies in the Kish Bank Basin off Dublin and shale gas extraction (fracking) in the north-west.

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