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SSE plc Acquires Phoenix Natural Gas
20th May 2012
Phoenix Energy Holdings, Northern Ireland's largest natural gas utility, has announced that it has reached an agreement to sell its gas supply businesses to SSE plc, formerly Scottish & Southern Electricity - subject to regulatory clearance.
Following the sale, Phoenix claims that it will continue to focus on investing and growing its core business, Phoenix Natural Gas, which operates the Greater Belfast natural gas network and is responsible for making gas available to around half the population of Northern Ireland. However, despite the arrival of mains gas in Northern Ireland, the province continues to have the highest level of oil heating in the UK, with almost 2/3rds. of Ulster homes continuing to choose oil.
Peter Dixon, Group Chief Executive, Phoenix Energy Holdings, said, "Phoenix Natural Gas, our core business, is responsible for operating and extending our gas distribution network as well as developing and supporting the wider local natural gas industry. We have made no secret of the fact that our long-term ambition is to grow our distribution business. The activities undertaken by our gas supply businesses involve the buying of gas and billing customers for its use; these have been a separate stand-alone operation within the Phoenix Group for several years".
"Phoenix established the natural gas industry in Northern Ireland in 1996 and due to its success there are now over 300,000 homes and businesses that have access to this cheaper, cleaner fuel. In addition, the scale of the gas network has attracted three other gas suppliers to the Greater Belfast area. This growth has now prompted SSE plc, one of the biggest energy suppliers in the UK and Republic of Ireland, to extend its current activities in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland through the acquisition of Phoenix's gas supply businesses."
Following the announcement, The Consumer Council in Northern Ireland has reassured Phoenix Supply Limited (PSL) customers that there should be no immediate impact following the news that the company is to be bought by SSE plc.
Reacting to the announcement, Director of Policy and Education for the Consumer Council, Aodhan O'Donnell said, "Aside from a potential change in name PSL gas customers in Greater Belfast and Larne will continue to receive their gas supply without interruption. Looking forward we would hope that this move could lead to new products for consumers and a strong focus on customer service."
The announcement of the acquisition of Phoenix by SSE plc, creates the first UK utility to offer consumers gas and electricity on a national basis.