The European Investment Bank, the European Union's long-term financing institution is lending IEP 140 million (EUR 177 million ) (1) to Bord Gais Eireann for the extension of the natural gas transmission network in Ireland, and to expand the capacity of the UK-Ireland gas interconnector.

EIB Vice-President Michael Tutty and Chairman of Bord Gais, Michael Conlon signed the loan contract in Cork.

The finance goes towards investment in the modernisation, reinforcement and extension of the Irish gas network, in particular through the development of a new gas distribution system serving 35 towns mainly in the South and East of Ireland. Works include the replacement of over 400 km of distribution pipes in the Dublin and Cork areas, the extension of existing gas transmission lines in the counties of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Kildare, Wicklow, Carlow, Waterford, Meath, Louth and Cavan. The project will connect an estimated 93,000 new domestic consumers and 4,000 industrial and commercial services. The import capacity of the UK-Ireland Gas Interconnector will be reinforced through investment in two additional compressor stations at Beattock and Brighouse Bay in southwest Scotland. 

EIB Vice-President Michael Tutty said: "This investment represents a significant expansion and increase in the capacity of the Irish gas network. It will help preparations for the eventual deregulation and liberalisation of the Irish energy markets, and give households and businesses the choice of switching from oil and solid fuels to a more environmentally friendly energy source. Encouraging the greater use of gas is an important element in the Irish Government's plans to meet its obligations, under the Kyoto protocol, to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions".

The European Investment Bank, the European Union's long-term lending institution, finances capital investment furthering EU integration, in particular: regional development; trans-European networks in transport, telecoms and energy; industrial competitiveness and integration; SMEs; environmental protection; and energy security. It also operates outside the EU within the framework of the EU's co-operation external policy. Owned by the Member States, the EIB raises its funds on capital markets (AAA issuer).

(1) EUR 1 = 0.787546 IEP; 0.6128 GBP