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Press Office
0113 322 7950

Out of hours: 0113 322 7978

Stakeholder Relations Team

stakeholder@northerngas.co.uk

A service you can rely on

We’re investing in our network to continue to heat homes and businesses across the North of England for years to come and ensure that it is more reliable than ever.

The volume of pipe replacement work means our roadworks barriers are  a familiar sight to motorists and pedestrians.

However, we use clever technology and innovative working methods to minimise disruption, and ensure that we keep the gas flowing to the region.

Outputs - a detailed look

This table takes a detailed look at our safety performance since the start of the regulatory period from 2013 – 2021, known as RIIO-GD1. Simply click the yellow tooltip to read a brief commentary on what the statistic means, and see how we’re performing.

Loss of supply Target
2013/14
2014/15
2015/16
2016/17
2017/18
2018/19
2019/20
2020/21
Status
Number of planned interruptions
?

Interruptions to the gas supply for which customers were given prior notice (e.g. by letter). Planned mains replacement work is the most common scenario here. The stats show that the number of planned interruptions was less than our target for the year. We also comfortably beat our eight year target of 517,170 planned interruptions.

64,646
43,276
57,434
58,925
61,191
62,669
63,774
50,413
21,464
Ahead
Number of unplanned interruptions
?

Interruptions to the gas supply caused by unplanned issues – such as gas leaks, or water finding its way into the pipe network. We finished RIIO GD1, comfortably ahead of our 8 year target of 103,677.

12,960
11,464
13,034
12,859
12,427
13,714
14,030
12,110
10,265
Ahead
Repair Target
2013/14
2014/15
2015/16
2016/17
2017/18
2018/19
2019/20
2020/21
Status
Duration of planned interruptions (minutes)
?

The length of time the gas went off due to planned work, such as mains replacement jobs. The total duration throughout RIIO GD1 was less than our eight year target of 170 million minutes – good news for customers.

21.3 million
22.4 million
30.3 million
13.7 million
15.5 million
16.4 million
17.6 million
13.7 million
6.6 million
Ahead
Duration of unplanned interruptions (minutes)
?

The length of time the gas went off due to unplanned issues, such as gas leaks. We finished RIIO GD1 ahead of our eight year target of 47 million minutes. This was great news for customers, as it meant reduced disruption.

5.9 million
4.8 million
4.2 million
4.4 million
4.8 million
5.6 million
6.3 million
5.1 million
4.2 million
Ahead
Network capacity Target
2013/14
2014/15
2015/16
2016/17
2017/18
2018/19
2019/20
2020/21
Status
Meeting NGN's 1 in 20 planning standard (MWh pa)
?

This output requires our network to have enough capacity to ensure customers’ gas supplies are not interrupted during periods of highest demand (known as a one in 20 year event). Estimates of peak demand have actually been falling since 2005, and we have met our annual target throughout much of RIIO GD1.

499,186
500,315
502,916
492,560
476,850
478,846
473,411
485,014
487,000
On target
PRI utilisation and capacity
?

Pressure Reduction Installations (PRI) reduce the pressure of gas before it is distributed to homes and businesses. To meet our obligations, assets need to be technically compliant and able to meet required volumes. We fell behind our target during the final year of RIIO GD1 due to a number of factors outside of our control, however overall our performance throughout the eight year period was on track.

Phased plan
On track
On track
On track
On track
On track
On track
On track
Behind
On target
Network reliability, maintaining operational performance Target
2013/14
2014/15
2015/16
2016/17
2017/18
2018/19
2019/20
2020/21
Status
Percentage by volume of network meter errors
?

We are responsible for monitoring and reporting the accuracy of the meters we use to measure the movement of gas from the National Transmission System into our network. We consistently met our annual target throughout RIIO GD1.

<0.1% pa
<0.002%
02% 0.0%
0.0%
0.0%
0.0%
0.1%
0.0%
0.1%
On target
Number and duration of telemetered faults
?

This target covers our response to telemetry faults (i.e. faults on equipment used to measure and record key data) on our above ground assets. We hit our target year on year throughout RIIO GD1.

120
105
63
135
63
95
116
94
89
Ahead
Pressure System Safety Regulation Faults
?

Statutory inspections are carried out on our network. We hit our target year on year throughout RIIO GD1.

0.49pa
0.43
0.26
0.31
0.35
0.37
0.29
0.19
0.41
Ahead
Gasholder decommissioning
?

We are in the process of decommissioning the region’s 44 gas holders. These holders are a legacy of a different age and are no longer needed due to improvements in our network. We aim to demolish them all over a 16 year period. We completed the decommissioning of 24 holders throughout RIIO GD1, and have exceeded our eight year target.

23 by end of RII0 GD1
1
2
3
7
3
3
1
4
Ahead

Case studies

We have some exciting projects on the go to help to keep the region cooking on gas and ensure that every penny that we spend delivers maximum value to our customers.

While we’re here, we’ll fill in the potholes

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A trial with Cumbria County Council saw our engineers fill in local potholes during a mains replacement scheme in Appleby-in-Westmorland. At the same time, water contractors repaired a damaged valve.

Under normal circumstances, three separate road closures would have been required to achieve the same outcome.

We are now talking with Cumbria County Council about the potential to expand the scheme, and have also had a productive initial conversation with North Yorkshire County Council about the approach.

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A considerate bunch

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In 2014/15, we became the first UK energy distributor to join the Considerate Constructors’ Scheme (CCS) – a benchmarking programme recognised as the ‘gold standard’ in civil engineering.

Our involvement has continued to drive up work site improvements. For example, we have introduced defibrillators across a number of our sites, use eco-cabins – some are even solar powered ­- and have even begun harvesting rainwater to clean muddy work boots!

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Syphoning off water

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When water gets into the gas network it can cause low pressure or loss of supply for customers.

We’ve developed a small syphon, fitted with a remote monitoring system, which collects water in pipes, and lets us know when it is full.

We’re in the process of rolling out this technology across the network and sharing the knowledge from field trials with other gas distribution networks.

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Sending robots down pipes

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We are triallling use of a robot that can travel down our pipes to spot and fix faults.

The robot is able to transmit live footage back to the surface and apply ‘flexspray’ to seal damaged internal pipe joints.

As well as improving our asset management techniques, sending the robot inside our pipes is reducing the time it takes us to complete our jobs, from an average of three weeks down to just one, meaning we’re digging fewer holes, creating less spoil and reducing costs. It’s also improving safety by minimising the need to dig.

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Ensuring quality every time we dig

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Doing a job right first time avoids the need to dig up the road again in the future.

Using a smart phone app, our front line teams can now send photos and other key information back to base, at every stage of a job. The info is then reviewed, in real time.

Following successful trials, the app is being rolled out to all emergency response, repair and connections teams in 2016/17.

And the use of digital technology doesn’t end there. We’re now in the second year of using smart phones to document and externally verify every single pipe joint we weld, ensuring a perfect seal every time, and have begun using digital job packs for mains replacement work – meaning more time improving our network, and less time back in the office.

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Coring the road – the smarter way to dig

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Why dig a great big hole when you can take a small sliver from the road instead?

That’s exactly what our Core and Vac units do. The engineering equivalent of giant apple corers, the units allow us to get straight to the problem area of a pipe with a minimum of mess, fuss and time.

Following successful trials, we invested in two Core & Vac units in 2016. They mean we can often get a job done in a single day, and can reduce reinstatement costs by an average of 69% and duration of works reduced by half, providing a better value service for customers.

They don’t work for every job. But when they are deployed, the benefits are phenomenal, with smaller, speedier and cheaper roadworks.

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Turning the tide on water ingress

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When water finds its way into our pipes, our customers end up going without gas until we can remove it.  We’re constantly looking at new ways to locate and extract water more quickly.

Water often travels around our pipes as a vapour, so we’re repurposing 20 year-old portable sensors to help us find it. The sensors were originally used to measure the energy (calorific) value of gas, but their happy knack of measuring water vapour concentrations too means we can put them to a whole new use.

We’re also trialling ‘intelligent’ syphons that can extract water on low lying parts of our network, and new filters that can remove impurities from extracted water– avoiding the need to tanker it away.

All this clever technology is helping us turn the tide on water ingress.

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Digging without the damage

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At any given time, we have around 80 mini diggers working across our network.

Until recently, the use of ‘back blades’ to anchor each digger during operation caused scarring on roads and footpaths. Engineers would often have to return weeks later to rectify this cosmetic damage, at great cost.

We’ve developed a protector for these back blades, using NIA (Network Innovation Allowance) funding, that has performed extremely well in trials.

We now plan to retrofit the protector to all our diggers – reducing public disruption and unlocking expected cost savings of £300k per year.

 

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Keyhole surgery for roads

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Over the past two years, we’ve successfully trialled ‘core & vac’technology, which allows us to take a small, circular sliver from a road or pavement, instead of digging a much bigger hole.

The technique – the civil engineering equivalent of keyhole surgery – has proven its worth in reducing the duration and disruption of jobs, as well as going some way towards limiting the amount of spoil we send to landfill.

We’ve recently invested in two core & vac rigs, housed on specially adapted trucks making this a business as usual approach.

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Investment where it counts

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We invested wisely in our above and below ground equipment in 2015/16, putting money into sites at Wakefield, Darlington, Hull and Goole, among other places. This improved reliability and met the needs of expanding local populations.

For the past three years, we have pursued a policy of front loading our network investment programme, in order to target problematic, leak prone pipes as quickly as possible, reducing disruption further down the line, and saving money by avoiding continual repairs.

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