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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.

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 how we’re performing.

Emergency response Target
2013/14
2014/15
2015/16
2016/17
2017/18
2018/19
2019/20
2020/21
Status
Amount of uncontrolled gas escapes attended within 1 hour
?

Our engineers need to get out quickly to gas escapes, and we were always 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%
99.83%
99.8%
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 always comfortably ahead of our targets for the year throughout RIIO GD1.

97%
99.97%
99.99%
99.96%
99.97%
99.72%
99.94%
99.29%
99.9%
Ahead
Repair Target
2013/14
2014/15
2015/16
2016/17
2017/18
2018/19
2019/20
2020/21
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. Our focus on repairing more challenging pipes during the pandemic helped us to comfortably beat our risk target in the final year of RIIO GD1, consistent with our outperformance every year since 2013.

<34.5m
34.4m
24.8m
18.6m
17.4m
19.3m
23.6m
23.0m
12.5m
Ahead
Amount of repairs completed within 12 hours
?

This refers to emergency repairs on our network. We were comfortably ahead of our target throughout RIIO GD1.

62.50%
62.3%
62.9%
64.4%
62.3%
66.1%
68.4%
64.3%
65.1%
Ahead
Mains replacement Target
2013/14
2014/15
2015/16
2016/17
2017/18
2018/19
2019/20
2020/21
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 2020/21 and consistently year on year throughout RIIO GD1, exceeding our eight year target of 111,192, by 97%.

13,898
43,119
41,2123
29,893
26,727
23,439
19,590
20,268
15,505
Ahead
Number of gas escapes 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 49 instances of gas in buildings in the final year of RIIO GD1 and we’re continuing to work to reduce this number further.

144
56
77
58
52
64
53
49
49
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 year on year throughout RIIO GD1.

2,742
815
883
685
683
689
678
569
814
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 3,886 km of old metal pipes during RIIO GD1, just shy of our 3,975 km target. This was due to some of our essential work being paused due to the Covid-19 pandemic, however we’re making up the shortfall in RIIO GD2.

448 km
483.6 km
519.4 km
461.3 km
473.6 km
514.4 km
522.96 km
495.5 km
394.5 km
Behind
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 cannot influence this output, given it is customer driven, and were behind target throughout RIIO GD1. 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
2.0 km
2.2 km
1.6 km
2.2km
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 made a decision to focus this activity where it delivered most value for our customers and upgrade service pipes as part of planned work to modernise our network, rather than carrying out bulk service renewals that might not add value for our customers. The Covid-19 pandemic saw a further fall in the number of service pipes replaced while we had limited access to customers homes.

30,932
29,305
29,609
27,579
29,275
29,906
30,984
27,667
15,699
Behind
Asset health and risk metrics
?

We are 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
On track
On track
On track
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
2019/20
2020/21
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.

Zero
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
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.

Zero
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
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 have now taken all sites off-risk.

136
9
69
34
9
-
2
12
1
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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