A LOCAL firm has been awarded the contract to construct a well site as part of the £400m natural gas storage project at Islandmagee.
The proposed facility, which would see the creation of seven huge underground storage caverns carved from prehistoric salt deposits a mile under Larne Lough, has already been granted planning permission by Environment Minister Alex Attwood.
But developers Islandmagee Gas Storage Ltd are still awaiting approval for a marine construction licence, abstraction licence and discharge consent before construction can begin.
The next phase of the project will see IMSL carry out drilling to retrieve core samples of the salt. These will be used to confirm the depth, thickness and composition of the salt, and finalise the design of the storage caverns.
And Islandmagee-based contractor Graeme Barr Plant Hire is to construct an access road and well site, which will act as a platform for the drilling to take place towards the end of 2013.
Speaking about the contract award, director of IMSL Paddy Larkin said: “We are delighted to be working with Graeme Barr on this important first stage of the project.
“Islandmagee Storage has supported local businesses on Islandmagee during the numerous surveys that have been required for data gathering over the past six years and this award shows that the company is committed to the use of local and competitive resources where possible during the project.
“In addition to the main contract, local County Antrim based businesses will also be providing the fencing, stone and other materials required for the construction of the site.”
The main construction activity is expected to start on Monday and last for about 10 weeks. The works have been designed and will be managed on site by Islandmagee Storage’s civil engineer, Richard Elliott of R Elliott & Associates.
During construction, Richard can be contacted on telephone number 07795563879 should local residents wish to raise any issues or questions.
IMSL recently held a public information event on the project, and plans to hold a second event later this year.