Bord Gáis has reported pre-tax profits of €166m for 2007, up 29% on the figure of €129m the previous year. Turnover rose by 10% to €1.215 billion.

On the back of soaring energy prices, the company said that a price increase is 'unfortunately' likely in October 2008 and it has applied to the Energy Regulator for an increase, likely to be in the region of 17-19%.

The company also announced that it plans to enter the residential electricity supply market before 2010 as it aims to increase its customer base to over one million by 2014. It said it is investing €1 billion in existing and €1 billion in new business assets.

Bord Gáis said its gas sales increased by 8% to €763m, while electricity sales rose by 18% to  €239m. It currently holds about 8% of the electricity market in Ireland.

In 2007, Bord Gáis said that gas demand rose with sales volumes up 14% and gas customer numbers exceeding 607,000 by the end of the year, up 5% on 2006.

It said that average residential consumption decreased by 9% last year, due to warmer temperatures than normal, more energy efficient housing stock and increased awareness of the need to conserve energy.

The company's programme to replace cast iron mains with modern polyethylene pipes continued last year, with 177km of such mains being replaced. This means that 94% of the distribution network is now polyethylene.

Construction also started on work to being gas to eleven towns in the west of the country, with work continuing on connections in ten towns in Northern Ireland.

'Bord Gáis is confident of its prospects in the coming years,' commented CEO John Mullins.

'This confidence emanates from an already exceptionally strong business base and from the roll out of the company's ambitious corporate strategy, which will benefit the shareholder, the business itself, but more importantly the customer in terms of choice, service and value for money,' he added.