SGN Natural Gas scoops two major plaudits at the 2021 industry awards

Northern Ireland’s newest gas distribution operator, SGN Natural Gas, has scooped two accolades at the IGEM Gas Industry Awards 2021.

Monday, 24th May 2021, 1:00 pm
David Butler, Director of SGN Natural Gas and ‘Engineer of the Year’ in the Gas Industry Awards 2021

David Butler, Director of SGN Natural Gas since October last year, won ‘Engineer of the Year’ for his prior role as Head of Engineering with the company delivering natural gas to homes and businesses in the west of Northern Ireland. He shared the honours with David Rae, Project Manager at parent company SGN which looks after the gas network in the south of England and Scotland.

Danny O’Malley was selected as winner of the distinguished ‘Leadership Award’ for leading on the delivery of the SGN Natural Gas network as Director for the first five years of the project. The award citation said he had supported the need to address fuel poverty as well as an affordable decarbonised future for commercial and domestic users.

The ‘Gas to the West’ pipeline is one of the world’s newest natural gas networks and will play a vital role as a pathway to a fully decarbonised, hydrogen-ready future for Northern Ireland.

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SGN Natural Gas was shortlisted in a total of four award categories at the event which recognises the UK gas industry’s most innovative and outstanding members. The organisers IGEM (Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers) and EUA (Energy and Utilities Alliance) announced the 2021 winners at a virtual awards ceremony this week.

David Butler said: “I am thrilled to be named ‘Engineer of the Year’ and this award is shared with the entire team at SGN Natural Gas; I couldn’t have done it without them. Having worked on the project from the outset, it is fantastic to receive this recognition from the judges and celebrate it with my colleagues and the wider SGN family.”

The SGN Natural Gas network was a complex engineering project involving 78km High Pressure pipeline delivered collaboratively with Mutual Energy and the construction of 142km Intermediate Pressure and over 200km of Distribution gas mains by SGN Natural Gas. A team of over 500 individuals, specialising in their respective fields, utilising a range of traditional open-cut and horizontal directional drilling (HDD) operations was required to complete the project, including over 50 river and stream crossings.

Mr Butler explained: “The project contains innovative network design and material selections which will help minimise costs in what is a very challenging environment. Importantly, this project ensures there is now a clear pathway to a fully decarbonised, hydrogen-ready future for Northern Ireland. The network can ultimately play a vital role in decarbonisation for the west of Northern Ireland where oil/solid fuel use is prevalent.”

‘Gas to the West’ is one of the most significant energy infrastructure projects carried out in the region for a generation. The project represents an ultimate investment of over £250million focused on offering an alternative, more efficient energy choice to consumers in the western area previously reliant on oil/solid fuel and helping to tackle fuel poverty. The project has the potential to meet the energy needs of up to 40,000 homes and businesses in eight key towns. SGN Natural Gas has to date connected over 1,500 customers to natural gas.

Duncan Wong, President of IGEM, continued: “The quality of nominations improves every year and makes the judging harder but equally more enjoyable to see the developments and improvements in the sector.”

Mike Foster, Chief Executive of EUA, added: “The 2021 Gas Awards have once again showcased the industry and those working within it. It is an industry that continued to move forward through a global pandemic. The gas industry provides inspiration and thought leadership to many, and is key to enabling the UK to hit its net zero target.”

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