Phoenix Energy, the leading gas network operator in Northern Ireland, revealed insights into the gas consumption habits of its customers in its annual accounts for 2022. The Belfast-based company reported a decrease in turnover by nearly £2m, from £68.3m to £64.6m. However, pre-tax profits saw a slight increase from £15.5m to £16.1m.
Despite the stable staff numbers at 121, the company’s pay bill increased from £6.3m to £6.5m. Phoenix Energy holds the license and distribution network for gas in an area covering approximately 48% of Northern Ireland’s population, including greater Belfast. The company manages the network’s construction and operation, while also developing the market within its licensed area.
As of the end of 2022, Phoenix Energy operated nearly 4,000 km of pipelines, providing gas to around 364,675 properties. The company’s gas penetration rate among customer properties reached 69%, which translates to approximately 250,673 customers. However, the volume of gas transported through the network in 2022 decreased by 15.9 million therms compared to the previous year. The decline in gas consumption was attributed to a combination of factors.
Changes in customer behavior due to weather conditions played a role, with domestic customers burning less gas during periods of increased temperatures throughout 2021 and 2022. Additionally, wholesale gas prices significantly influenced consumption patterns. The rise in wholesale energy costs led consumers to reduce their normal consumption levels, mitigating against the increase in supply selling prices.
The decrease in gas consumption was particularly evident among both big-usage and small-usage customers. Big-usage customers, consuming over 25,000 therms per year, reduced their usage by 3.7 million therms. Small-usage consumers saw an even greater decline, with their usage down by 12.1 million therms.
In terms of network expansion, Phoenix Energy invested £17m in capital expenditure during 2022, expanding the network by an additional 72.6 km of gas mains. The company acquired 6,420 new customers, with 3,417 of them being residential customers.
Phoenix Energy expressed its plans to increase gas network usage from approximately 69% at the end of 2022 to more than 80% over the next 20 years. Due to its natural monopoly, the company is regulated under license by the Utility Regulator.
Macquarie, an Australian investment bank, intends to sell a 50% stake in the business, known as Phoenix Energy, and has asked potential buyers to indicate whether they are interested in acquiring the entire company. NatWest Group Pension Fund owns the remaining 50% stake, while the Utilities Trust of Australia owns the rest.
– Companies House (Annual Accounts for 2022)
– Utility Regulator
– (source article)