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Press Office
0113 322 7950

Out of hours: 0113 322 7978

Stakeholder Relations Team

stakeholder@northerngas.co.uk

Safety's our priority

We’re constantly investing in our network to make it safer and less prone to leaks.

Keeping our customers and colleagues safe and sound is our overriding priority.

In 2018/19, our emergency engineers got out to gas leaks on the double, beating our regulatory response targets.

We continued to replace old gas pipes nearing the end of their useful life, which helped us to improve the overall ‘risk’ score of our network. That means fewer leaks and an even more reliable supply for customers.

Our performance in replacing service pipes – the smaller pipes that connect individual properties – has been behind target in recent years. We missed our regulatory target in 2018/19, partly because we had fewer emergency repairs which required us to replace service pipes. We’re currently looking at ways we can make up ground.

Outputs - a detailed look

This table takes a detailed look at our safety performance since the start of our current regulatory period, known as RIIO-GD1. Simply click the yellow tooltip to read a brief commentary on what the statistic means, and how we’re performing.

Emergency response Target
2013/14
2014/15
2015/16
2016/17
2017/18
2018/19
Status
Amount of uncontrolled gas escapes attended within 1 hour
?

Our engineers need to get out quickly to gas escapes, and we were comfortably ahead of our statutory response times when it came to responding to urgent escapes.

97%
99.85%
99.85%
99.76%
99.76%
99.61%
99.75%
Ahead
Amount of controlled gas escapes attended within 2 hours
?

Some gas escapes can be responded to within a two hour window, where the risk to the customer is deemed lower. We were comfortably ahead of our targets for the year.

97%
99.97%
99.99%
99.96%
99.97%
99.72%
99.94%
Ahead
Repair Target
2013/14
2014/15
2015/16
2016/17
2017/18
2018/19
Status
Annual risk
?

We work out a total risk score for all pipes which require a repair. The score is based on a wide range of criteria, and is helpful in allowing us to prioritise our repair work. Investing heavily in our network in 2018/19 helped us to comfortably beat our risk target.

<34.5m
34.4m
24.8m
18.6m
17.4m
19.3m
25m
Ahead
Amount of repairs completed within 12 hours
?

This refers to emergency repairs on our network. We were ahead of target.

60.25%
60.3%
62.9%
64.4%
62.3%
66.1%
68.4%
Ahead
Mains replacement Target
2013/14
2014/15
2015/16
2016/17
2017/18
2018/19
Status
Risk removed (incidents/year* 10 - 6)
?

Every metal pipe is given a risk score, based on factors such as the number of gas escapes. The overall ‘risk removed’ figure therefore gives a snapshot of our progress in making the network safer. Good news – we were ahead of target in 2018/19.

13,898
43,119
41,2123
29,893
26,727
23,439
19,590
Ahead
Number of gas in building events
?

A measure of the number of gas escapes which resulted in gas finding its way into a building – presenting a potential safety risk to customers. There were 53 instances of gas in buildings in 2018/19 and we’re continuing to work to reduce this number further.

144
56
77
24
52
64
53
Ahead
Number of fracture or corrosion failures
?

Old metal pipes are subject to fractures or corrosion. We’re gradually replacing them with new plastic pipes to reduce these types of failure, and comfortably beat our annual target.

2,742
815
883
685
683
689
678
Ahead
Length of main taken 'off risk'(funded)
?

Replacing old metal pipes with modern plastic ones dramatically reduces the risk of gas escapes. We replaced 522.96 km of old metal pipes in 2018/19 – just behind target, but we aim to make up ground over the coming year.

479.3 km
483.6 km
519.4 km
461.3 km
473.6 km
514.4 km
522.96 km
Ahead
Length of main taken 'off risk' (customer driven)
?

This refers to the length of old pipes replaced while carrying out work at a customer’s request, such as diverting a pipe. We can’t influence this output, given it is customer driven, and were behind target in 2018/19. Lots of disparate factors can influence this statistic, such as the health of the economy. More prosperity means customers invest more in property (e.g. building extensions or new builds) – and that means more private pipes get replaced.

15.4 km
1.8 km
2.1 km
2.9 km
1.9 km
2 km
3.27 km
Behind
Number of non-PE services replaced
?

Service pipes are the connecting pipes which link a customer’s home or business to the gas mains in the street. We were marginally behind our replacement target for 2018/19, but expect to make up lost ground in 2019/20.

30,932
29,305
29,609
27,579
29,275
29,906
30,984
Behind
Asset health and risk metrics
?

We’re constantly assessing the overall health of our assets (pipes and associated equipment) and the level of risk to inform how and where we invest in the future.

Phased plan
Phased plan
On track
On track
On track
On track
On track
On target
Major accident hazard protection Target
2013/14
2014/15
2015/16
2016/17
2017/18
2018/19
Status
Compliance with the Control of Major Accident Hazard regulations (numbers of breaches)
?

we are required to show that we have fully complied with these essential Health and Safety Executive regulations, by, for example, having a major accident prevention policy in place.

0
-
-
-
-
-
-
On target
Compliance with the Gas Safety Management Regulations (number of breaches)
?

We are required to show that we have fully complied with these essential Health and Safety Executive regulations.

0
-
-
-
-
-
-
On target
Sub-deduct network 'off risk'by the end of RIIO
?

‘Sub-deduct’ networks are parts of the gas network where ownership and responsibility are unclear –presenting a potential safety risk. Through re-engineering these networks, or establishing third party acceptance of responsibility, we can reduce this risk. We have a further 18 sites to tackle before March 2021.

135
9
69
34
9
-
2
On target

Case studies

Providing a safe and secure gas service to our customers is our over-riding priority. We have some exciting projects on the go to help us to continue to do just that.

Phones that are safe, and smart

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We’re trialling ‘intrinsically safe’ smart phones that can be used on high pressure gas sites.

The phones don’t present a spark risk and are set to prove a real labour saver.

Tim Harwood, our Head of Major Projects said: “Previously, colleagues would use paper forms and key information into a Toughbook back in the van or the office. The new phones mean we can send data straight from site – saving time and money.”

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Beating the Beast from the East

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A flexible working model meant that not even the Beast from the East could stop us from hitting our emergency response times in 2017/18.

When bad weather hits, we are able to bring in reinforcements in the form of specially trained contractors and reservists from among our own employees. Planned jobs are scaled back, as frontline times focus on emergency repairs.

Being prepared meant we continued to get out to gas escapes within our statutory one and two hour response times, despite snow and freezing temperatures.

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Sniffing out leaks

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Midge and Millie are ex-police sniffer dog who has been trained to locate gas leaks.

We have deployed the pair more than 40 times, including at a major supply loss incident in Leeds in September 2017, which affected 550 homes. Their super sensitive noses helped us to get customers back on gas two days ahead of schedule, avoiding an estimated £85,000 of costs.

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Creating a more reliable network – one pipe at a time

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In the past four years, we have replaced more than 1946.6 km of old iron gas pipes with modern plastic versions – an investment of more than £367 million.

This programme is proving instrumental in reducing the number of gas leaks and pipe failures. That means less inconvenience for our customers, and fewer costly repairs for us.

We might never arrive at an entirely leak-free network, but we’re certainly getting closer!

Year 2013 2014 2015 2016
Network Escapes 24197 22082 20260 18676
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Predicting network behaviour

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We worked closely with Formula 1 icons McClaren and KPMG, one of the world’s biggest auditing firms, to improve our approach to asset management and make smarter investment decisions.

Tapping into McClaren’s world beating expertise in performance analytics has helped us revise our investment model for mains repairs, savings of £62.5K per year up until the end of RIIO GD-1.

 

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Leaving gas with nowhere to hide

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If there is a leak on our network, gas can often find its way into underground cables and ducts used for internet and TV cables.

Being able to take readings from ducts helps our engineers track down the source of the leak.

Unfortunately, existing probes are not ideal for the job. Their short length means we need to dig lots of exploratory holes to insert them along the length of a duct.

We’re using Network Innovation Allowance (NIA) funding from Ofgem to develop a new fiber optic probe which can be extended up to 100 metres along the full length of a duct, avoiding the need to dig trial holes.

The gadget is currently being trialled by ourselves, Wales and West Utilities, SGN and Cadent (the new name for National Grid Distribution).

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