In a move that will enable it to make new import capacity available earlier than planned this year, gas pipeline operator Interconnector has confirmed that it expects to complete the commissioning of the latest enhancement to its UK import facilities by the end of September.

Subject to continued good progress in the meantime, completing the commissioning will allow the new import capacity to be made available on October 1, 2006, ahead of the scheduled date of December 1, 2006. This will come as welcome news for the UK gas market, which has to increasingly rely on gas imports to cover demand during the winter months.

Work on the first phase of the project was completed in November 2005, increasing UK import capacity from 8.5bcm/y to 16.5bcm/y. This second phase enhancement will increase UK import capacity of the system to 23.5bcm/y.

A third phase could see Interconnector carry out a further reverse flow capacity enhancement that would provide an additional two billion bcm/y from October 2007.