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The £1 gas pipeline in Norfolk which could save £100m and one day heat the population of Greater London

PUBLISHED: 09:33 07 June 2017 | UPDATED: 11:46 07 June 2017

The mothballed Thames Gas pipeline at Bacton in north Norfolk. Picture: Perenco.

The mothballed Thames Gas pipeline at Bacton in north Norfolk. Picture: Perenco.

Perenco

An energy company which snapped up a disused gas pipeline for £1 says bringing it back into use could deliver £100m of savings and power up to nine million homes a year.

Mark Routh, chief executive of Independent Oil & Gas. Picture: IOG. Mark Routh, chief executive of Independent Oil & Gas. Picture: IOG.

The 90km-long Thames Gas pipeline, which two years ago was decommissioned and comes in at Bacton in north Norfolk, was bought by Independent Oil and Gas in April to bring in more than 500 billion cubic feet of gas from its fields in the Southern North Sea (SNS).

In what it hopes will be the first recommissioning of an SNS pipeline, the company wants to drill 10 wells, lay 70km of new pipeline and install five new platforms for its existing gas fields, and is aiming for peak flow by 2020.

Work is now under way to assess the state of the pipeline using so-called “intelligent pigs” – remotely-operated vehicles which run up and down the pipe – and determine what repairs may be necessary.

“This has never been done before,” chief executive Mark Routh said of the £300m project at an East of England Energy Group event in Norwich.

“It is a lot of gas and it will be beneficial for the UK and the supply chain in this area.”

IOG has acquired its gas fields in the SNS at a cut price because they were considered stranded assets – meaning the low-pressure gas remaining there had no viable route to shore – a problem the revived pipeline should solve.

“By having our own infrastructure, we are not beholden to anyone else and we don’t have to pay transportation tariffs to the owner of the pipeline,” said Mr Routh.

“If we have to cut a section of pipeline out and replace it, that may cost £10m. We can do that 10 times and still be ahead of the curve.”

Mr Routh said companies had to think differently given the sustained depression in world energy prices.

“This is what the SNS needs: smaller companies being innovative in a low-cost environment. Until renewables can catch up in energy supply terms, we need to burn gas, not oil, as it is more environmentally friendly.”

Building a new pipeline would also have taken at least two years to gain the necessary permits, he added. The £1 deal to buy the pipeline from Perenco, Centrica and Tullow included taking on liabilities totalling millions.

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