Firmus Energy are planning to lay a massive gas pipe line under the River Foyle in order to bolster supply to the west bank.
The plans to drill under the river and lay a 600m pipeline from Maydown to Culmore were unveiled during a presentation by the company’s Director of Engineering Eric Cosgrove before Derry & Strabane Council’s Environment & Regeneration Committee on Wednesday.
Mr Cosgrove, who was accompanied by his colleague Angeline Murphy at the meeting, said the company had already invested £21.7m in infrastructure to ensure that 20,830 properties across Derry could be connected to gas.
To date, 7.925 local energy customers have made the switch to Firmus, with more expected to do so in the future.
Major organisations that are now Firmus customers include Altnagelvin Hospital, the Millennium Forum, St Columb;s College, Lumen Christi College, Seagate, Everglades Hotel and the Garvan O’Doherty Group.
Over the next year a further £1m will be invested, with a further 13.9km of gas mains to be laid and 2,800 more properties made connectable.
Mr Cosgrove said that the initial plan was to make social housing and large businesses areas connectable, and that the focus now would be to branch the network out into owner-occupied areas, and into the future branching out beyond the city into areas such as Newbuildings and Eglinton.
SDLP Councillor Angela Dobbins welcomed the new focus on owner-occupied estates like much of Culmore.
“There are exciting times ahead for Firmus in Derry and in particular in the area close to my heart, Culmore,” she said. “I know Firmus has a great customer ethos and is renowned for this.”
Mr Cosgrove said that at present the cityside is supplied through one pipeline attached to the Craigavon Bridge, installed in 2006.
“We hope to drill underneath the Foyle to bring another pipe across. We have submitted that to the Utility Regulator,” he said.
He said that this would run from the Port Road, Maydown, 600ms across to Culmore, with work starting next year if they get the go ahead from the Regulator.
Sinn Fein Councillor Colly Kelly said that there were grants available for some people who wish to make the change to gas.
Natural gas releases 30% less carbon dioxide than oil and almost 45% less than coal. It is estimated that in Derry 100,000 tonnes of CO2 have been removed.