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Mains gas switched in North-west Murcia

Liquefied natural gas storage facilities in Calasparra, Cehegín, Bullas, Mula and Caravaca de la Cruz will now close

Mains gas switched in North-west MurciaThe mains gas supply to the north-west of the Region of Murcia was significantly improved on Tuesday when regional President Ramón Luis Valcárcel unveiled a plaque in the Marimingo industrial estate in Bullas, marking the official opening of a new 65-kilometre pipeline.

The pipeline, which has required an investment of 16 million euros on the part of energy company EDP, will ensure that mains gas is available to a potential total of 34,100 homes and 75,000 people in the north-west, and will mean the closure of the liquefied natural gas storage facilities in Calasparra, Cehegín, Bullas, Mula and Caravaca de la Cruz. According to Manuel Menéndez, the president of EDP, it will now no longer be necessary for 300 lorries a year to deliver gas from Escombreras, in Cartagena, to the storage plants, and as a result the potential effects on the environment will be considerably reduced.

This marks another step forward in the creation of a mains gas supply for the whole of the north-west of the Region, continuing a plan which began in 2000 when the five storage plants were opened. This has been possible thanks to an agreement reached between EDP and the regional government, supported by the national Ministry for Industry and Energy.

The total budget for the 326 kilometres of pipeline included in the plan is 62.4 million euros, and along the way the aim is to eliminate a total of eleven liquefied natural gas storage facilities and provide direct mains supply to 94% of the population in the north-west, the Altiplano area which includes Yecla and Jumilla, and the south of Murcia. As things now stand only three storage facilities remain open, and 93% of the population can receive mains gas.

The infrastructures are already in place in Lorca, Alhama, Totana, Fuente Álamo, San Javier, San Pedro del Pinatar, Calasparra and San Javier-Balsicas-Baños y Mendigo, and work began last year on supplying natural gas to Cieza and Torre Pacheco. Next in line for work to start are the pipelines connecting Águilas (planned for 2014) and Mazarrón, where plans are being drawn up, while administrative approval is still being sought for the pipelines supplying La Unión-El Algar, Lorquí-Archena and Torre Pacheco-Los Alcázares: all of these are included in the eight-year-plan which covers the period from 2012 to 2020.

EDP is now operative in 24 of the Region of Murcia’s 45 municipalities, offering 94,000 supply points and providing a service to over 58,000 gas consumers, as well as maintaining 20,615 electricity contracts and 21,430 service contracts. It is the leading gas supplier in Murcia and three other Autonomous Communities (Cantabria, Asturias and the Basque Country), and also serves seven other regions of Spain. Following a few lean years during the crisis, when energy consumption fell, the figures are now reported to be rising again, thanks especially to increased consumption in industry in recent months.

However, the company has no plans to invest in new electricity production infrastructures in the immediate future, due to the current excess of supply over demand and the rise of renewable sources of electricity: this has led to there being less need for gas in the production of electricity. This very much links to the situation reported on just a few days ago, with the plans to close the Escombreras Iberdrola electrical plant.

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