Engineers have been given the go-ahead to investigate a potential new gas storage facility for Northern Ireland.
Portland Gas NI, a subsidiary of Egdon Resources has been given an exploration licence by the Crown Estate to assess the suitability of a site deep below Larne Lough, County Antrim.
A Permian salt bedrock will be evaluated for its suitability for the creation caverns that would be used for natural gas storage.
Portland Gas will carry out a seismic survey in October near the site of a borehole drilled in 1981, which first revealed a 113m thick salt sequence at a depth of almost 1700m.
If the site is suitable, Portland said a new storage facility could benefit the local energy infrastructure. ‘The Northern Ireland gas market has been growing significantly over recent years and without access to local gas storage facilities it could become vulnerable to supply disruptions,’ said Portland Gas managing director Andrew Hindle.
The company, which is a subsidiary of energy group Egdon Resources, will begin the search for a suitable surface site if the seismic survey confirms the salt bedrock’s viability for caverns.
The exploration project is being managed by engineering and environmental consultancy RPS Ireland.