25th May 2005


<p>The decision by the Energy Regulator to consult on the proposed acquisition of Phoenix Natural Gas by Terra Firma is a timely and necessary development, according to the Consumer Council.</p>

Wesley Henderson, Director of Energy and Corporate Services at the Consumer Council, said: “Our top priority is to see how this deal might affect consumers now and in the future – before it goes through.  We need to be assured that it is good for consumers as well as shareholders and that the impacts on consumers are fully identified and addressed.  This is particularly relevant in Northern Ireland where we pay more for our energy and have higher levels of fuel poverty than elsewhere in the UK.  It is therefore entirely proper that the Regulator thoroughly investigates the issues to help safeguard consumers' interests. 

“Last year's deal between Phoenix and the Regulator provided a framework to protect the interests of consumers, the gas industry and the Northern Ireland economy.  It is vital that any new owners continue this commitment – and the Regulator will rightly consider whether the regulatory agreement needs to be reviewed the light of the new circumstances.”

Wesley Henderson continued: “East Surrey Holdings (the current owners of Phoenix Natural Gas) has a unique opportunity to fulfil its corporate social responsibility to its gas customers and make this good news for them and not just shareholders.  If Phoenix is now as valuable as the proposed deal would suggest, customers need to see the benefit of this increased value through lower prices and better services – particularly as we move towards the annual gas price review.”

  1. Consumer Council media contact: Susie Brown, telephone, 028 9067 4807  or e-mail, [email protected]
  2. The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland's consumers. The Council campaigns for high standards of service and protection and a fair deal for all. It also carries out research, gives advice and publishes reports and other publications. It deals with individual complaints about electricity, natural gas, coal and passenger transport.
  3. For more information, visit our website at