The Utility Regulator is responsible for regulating Northern Ireland’s natural gas industry.
Our principal objective in carrying out our gas functions is to promote the development and maintenance of an efficient, economic and co-ordinated gas industry in Northern Ireland, and to do so consistently with our fulfilment of the objectives set out at Article 40 of the Gas Directive.
In fulfilling our functions, we must act in the manner that we consider best calculated to further this objective, and have regard to a number of matters set out more fully at Article 14 of the Energy (Northern Ireland) Order 2003.
The Gas Directorate is divided into three main areas: transmission, distribution and supply.
Gas transmission deal with the large high pressure pipelines that convey gas to the distribution systems. There are four transmission pipelines in Northern Ireland:
- SNIP (Scotland to Northern Ireland Pipeline) is 135 kilometres long and runs from Twynholm in Scotland to Ballylumford. The SNIP is owned by Premier Transmission Limited which is part of the Mutual Energy Ltd. group of companies.
- BGTP (Belfast Gas Transmission pipeline) is 26 kilometres long and is connected to the SNIP and to the North West Pipeline. It also supplies gas to the Belfast distribution network. The BGTP is owned by Belfast Gas Transmission Limited (BGTL) which is part of the Mutual Energy Ltd. group of companies.
- NWP (North West Pipeline) is 112 kilometres long and runs from Carrickfergus to Coolkeeragh Power-station. It is owned by BGE Northern Ireland (BGE NI)
- SNP (South North Pipeline) is 156 kilometres long and runs from Co Antrim to Gormanstown in Co. Meath, Ireland where it links into the NWP. It is owned by BGE Northern Ireland (BGE NI).
Gas transmission also deals with the regulatory framework for gas storage which is discussed further below under the projects section.
Gas distribution deal with the medium and low pressure gas mains that convey gas to licenced areas within Northern Ireland. There are three distribution licensed areas within Northern Ireland:
- Greater Belfast and Larne distribution licensed area - operated by Phoenix Natural Gas Limited (PNGL)
Ten Towns distribution licensed area - operated by firmus energy (Distribution) Limited (feDL)
West distribution licensed area - operated by SGN Natural Gas Limted (SGN)
Gas supply work with companies supplying customers with gas into their homes/businesses.
For the Greater Belfast and Larne licensed area, there are two suppliers active in supplying gas to domestic customers: SSE Airtricity Gas Supply and firmus energy. There are six active suppliers for industrial & commercial customers: SSE Airtricity Gas Supply, firmus energy, Electric Ireland, Vayu, Go Power and Flogas.
In the Ten Towns licensed area, there is one active supplier for domestic gas customers: firmus energy. There are four active suppliers for industrial & commercial customers: firmus energy, SSE Airtricity Gas Supply, Go Power and Flogas.