Kinsale field closure leaves Corrib as sole source of domestic natural gas

Demand for gas recovers following dip during lockdown

The lockdown led to an overall decline of 2.3% in gas demand   in the six months ended June 30th, compared to the first half of 2019. Photograph: iStock

The lockdown led to an overall decline of 2.3% in gas demand in the six months ended June 30th, compared to the first half of 2019. Photograph: iStock

 

The Corrib Field is now Ireland’s sole domestic source of natural gas – the fuel that provides most of the country’s electricity – after the Kinsale reservoir ran dry recently.

State company Gas Networks Ireland confirmed on Thursday that the last commercial quantities of the fuel flowed from the Kinsale field, off the south coast, in recent days.

“The closure of Kinsale leaves the Corrib Gas Field, off the coast of Co Mayo, as Ireland’s only indigenous natural gas source on the network, with the remainder of the natural gas supplied via the interconnectors from Moffat, Scotland, ” the company said.

Gas is used to generate around 60 per cent of the electricity needed here, while 700,000 families and employers also depend on the fuel.

The Corrib field supplies around two-thirds of the natural gas consumed in Ireland, with the balance flowing via Scotland from the North Sea and Europe.

That field is due to run out over the next decade, after which Ireland will have to import all its natural gas unless another reservoir is discovered in the country’s territorial waters.

However, the Government intends halting future fossil fuel exploration in Irish waters, although it is allowing existing exploration licences to continue.

Reserves

Kinsale supplied gas to the Irish network for more than four decades. The field’s contribution had been dwindling in recent years as reserves ran low.

News that Kinsale has run out came as Gas Networks Ireland confirmed that demand for the fuel is returning to normal following a dip as the Republic locked down against Covid-19 in the second quarter of the year.

The lockdown led to an overall decline of 2.3 per cent in the six months ended June 30th, compared to the first half of 2019, according to the State company.

Warmer weather in March and April plus coronavirus closures caused a 29 per cent fall in gas consumption across homes and small or medium-sized businesses during that period.

Demand from this group, which accounts for 96 per cent of Ireland’s 700,000 gas customers, fell 3.8 per cent in the first half of this year than during the same period in 2019.

The first half of the year saw large energy users increase their gas demand by 6.7 per cent, with the first three months of the year indicating a strong rise in demand. The food and drink, life sciences and pharmaceutical sectors showed strong resiliency in terms of energy demand during the lockdown.

Warmer weather

“Most businesses experienced challenges during Covid-19, which impacted on gas demand, as did reduced domestic demand due to warmer weather,”said Gas Networks Ireland head of regulatory affairs Brian Mullins.

“This was offset to some extent by large industry demand, and the reliance on gas in generating electricity when wind cannot.”

Gas Networks Ireland said most sectors have returned to a normal energy demand pattern, with the hotel and leisure industry, along with their associated industries such as laundry service providers, among the only outliers.

During the course of the lockdown about 2,200 customers took advantage of the three-month suspension of network charges offered by Gas Networks Ireland.