The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's long-term financing institution, is providing ECU 60 million (1) to Portgás for a natural gas distribution network in the North of Portugal. The network will distribute gas transported by the Maghreb-Europe pipeline, one of the priority TransEuropean Networks financed by the EIB, to the Oporto Metropolitan Area and some other eight municipalities located between Oporto and Viana do Castelo.

This is the third natural gas distribution project supported by the EIB in the context of Portugal's national programme to ensure secure energy supplies and foster the utilisation of an environmental-friendly energy source. The two previous loans went to Lusitaniagás and Setgás.

The EIB's remit is to foster balanced growth and European integration through long-term loans for sound capital investment supporting European Union policy objectives. Securing energy is essential to achieve balanced growth and to promote the development of the less favoured regions of the Union. In 1992-96 the Bank provided some ECU 17 billion loans for energy projects across the Union, of which ECU 1.3 billion in Portugal.

(1) The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 30 September 1997, when ECU 1 = GBP 0.69, IEP 0.76, USD 1.113, PTE 200.251.