Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi is embarking an ambitious plan to establish a vast natural gas distribution network across the emirate, officials said yesterday.

"The big picture of the project involves providing natural gas for residential buildings to replace liquified petroleum gas (LPG), and to make it the primary source of energy for the industrial establishments, as well as expanding the network of natural gas refilling stations for motor vehicles," an official at Adnoc distribution told Gulf News.

The work on the residential pipeline network will begin by mid-2008, with several gas stations planned to complement the existing two at Mussafah and near Port Zayed.

"Further, the developers of Al Reem island are installing a natural gas pipeline network that will be connected to our grid as soon as it is accomplished," the official added.

Adnoc distribution provides natural gas to ten major customers at the Industrial City of Abu Dhabi (ICAD I), and is working now on a major project to supply Emirates Steel with its needs. The company is looking as well to provide the gas to at least 20 major customers in ICAD II.

"The work will start this year to construct a gas network to cover all of ICAD II, including all the big industries such as ceramics, glassware, chemicals, and so forth," he said.

The industrial areas get the supply from the Mussafah station which receives the gas from Maqtaa through a sub-sea pipeline. However, Adnoc plans to expand the sources of natural gas with the commencement of the Dolphin project.

"Though the main source will be developing more facilities in Habshan," the source added, explaining that "the pipeline network will be extended remarkably with the new line passing through the city adjacent to the sub-sea line creating a loop all the way round."