with quality standards set by the
Authority for 4 services
average waiting time at branches
and chance to reserve an
appointment with an operator
thousand analyses
Group drinking water, 1,100 per day, of which 63% on the supply network

Gas distribution service safety and continuity

The Hera Group manages the gas distribution service with the objective of ensuring high safety and service continuity levels.

Resolution 574/2013/R/gas, which governs the quality of the gas distribution service, has further increased the safety standards for the current regulatory period (2014-2019). This rise was largely in line with the previous standards observed by Hera and with the company’s mid- and long-term goals. The changes to the regulations did not therefore have any particular impact on Hera or any significant negative impact on the continuity of its goals and activities. Specifically, the resolution added more stringent requirements on the inspection of networks, on odorising and on incentives to upgrade the odorising systems.

Since 2010, gas distribution companies have been obliged to participate in a system of incentives for safety improvements in the service defined by Arera, which assesses four aspects:

  • compliance with service obligations, absence of gas accidents falling under the responsibility of the operator, absence of breaches in this area connected with Arera’s controls or inspections;
  • the number of measurements of the level of gas odorising compared to the required minimum;
  • the number of conventional leaks reported by third parties compared to the objective set by ARERA for the period.
  • the number of upgraded odorising systems (flow-proportional and remote controlled injection-type odorisation systems).

For 2016, the Regulatory Authority has not yet approved the economic values of bonuses and penalties for Inrete. The previous financial statements have been updated on the basis of certain data linked to the operating situation in the Ravenna area. In any case, we expect Inrete to achieve positive results both for the gas odorisation component and for the component regarding leaks reported by third parties. The balance between premiums and penalties for the gas distribution service for the provincial areas served in Emilia-Romagna is expected to amount to approximately Euro 2.2 million. In 2018 The Italian Regulatory Authority is expected to publish the measure that determines these values as well as the results obtained by the distribution companies in 2017. A positive balance between premiums and penalties of approximately Euro 1.5 million is expected for 2017, a decrease compared to the previous year due to the progressive increase in the target thresholds set by the Regulatory Authority. In AcegasApsAmga, for 2017, incentives for odorization are estimated at Euro 207 thousand, as well as incentives for dispersions for Euro 588 thousand, net of the penalties expected mainly for the plants in the province of Gorizia. No incentives are expected for the Trieste plants since the requirements relating to the adaptation of the protection of steel pipes have not been met. The 95% upgrade of Trieste’s unprotected steel pipelines is expected to be completed during the next financial year.

Gas emergency service
  2015 2016 2017
Average arrival time at the call location (min.) 35.9 34.9 37.4
Calls with arrival time at the call location within 60 minutes (%) (service obligation 90%) 97.7% 97.5% 96.2%

Resolution Aeegsi 574/2013 “Consolidated Law for the regulation of the quality and rates of gas distribution and metering services for regulatory period 2014-2019” (TUDG) establishes that the distribution company must comply with the minimum annual percentage service obligation of 90% of calls with arrival time at the place of call for emergency services within the maximum time of 60 minutes.

Final data on emergency response activities in 2017 show an increase in calls to toll-free numbers, especially for the Bologna (linked to the massive replacement of gas meters) and Ravenna (linked to the introduction of a new odorizer that has generated a greater perception of gas odor even for small dispersions) areas. Overall, this increase led to a decrease in the percentage of calls with intervention within 60 minutes. Despite this, an increase in the number of calls received, the positive levels of the security and continuity indicators however confirm that the Group is firmly above the levels set by Arera: compared to the minimum service obligation required by Arera of 90%, in 2017 the Group intervened within 60 minutes for 96.2% of the over 24,000 calls received. AcegasApsAmga recorded 99.5% for this indicator while Marche Multiservizi recorded 96.6%.

We expect that the number of calls for the Bologna area will also remain high in 2018, given the ongoing extraordinary massive replacement of gas meters. When this operation ends, as planned for 2019, we expect the number to be substantially lower. In any case, specific indicator monitoring initiatives will be implemented during 2018 in order to ensure a higher service level than in 2017. For the Ravenna area, on the other hand, we expect the impact of the new odorant to be overcome, also thanks to the massive search for aerial dispersions carried out as a preventive activity.


Inspections and leaks in the gas network
  2015 2016 2017
Percentage of total high and medium pressure network inspected (service obligation 100% in 3 years) 53.3% 56.3% 58.0%
Percentage of total low pressure network inspected (service obligation 100% in 4 years) 68.9% 78.1% 74.7%
Number of leaks on distribution network located upon inspection per kilometre of network 0.085 0.065 0.059
Number of leaks on distribution network located upon notification by third parties, per kilometre of network 0.043 0.041 0.037

In 2017, the percentage of the grid that was inspected was significantly higher than the minimum standard required by Arera (100% for the high and medium pressure grid in 3 years and 100% of the low pressure grid in 4 years). In fact, at Group level, the high and medium pressure grid inspected reached 58% and the low pressure grid was 75%.

In 2017, as in 2016, scheduled inspections of the network, network elements and gas metering units were carried out by both internal and external personnel, ensuring the highest quality of service and compliance with Arera’s regulations and Group guidelines.

In addition to applying the criteria and rationale contained in the Group’s operating instructions, the data obtained from a prediction algorithm of the predisposition to pipeline failure, empirically applied and adapted to the planned gas dispersion research activity, were also taken into consideration.

Consistently, and in continuity with what has been put in place for the year 2017 (application of the forecasting algorithm), we decided to start another project consisting in the development of a dynamic optimization workframe for leak research processes planned on gas networks, which will be available from January 2019.

2017 is the first year of the second three-year period of application of the regulatory period in accordance with Aeegsi Resolution 574/2013. The results achieved in 2017 must therefore be evaluated in relation to future performance in 2018 and 2019 and to the standards set in Resolution 574/2013.

In 2017, in the Group’s entire gas distribution network, 37 leaks were reported by third parties, per thousand kilometres of network, compared to 41 in 2016. On the other hand, in 2017, 59 leaks were identified by means of inspections on the Group’s distribution network per thousand kilometres of network, compared to 65 in 2016.

Inrete has adopted some additional criteria that are more precautionary than those required by Res. 574/2013 for scheduling inspections of the gas network, in accordance with what was carried out in the 2014-2016 three-year period, requiring the inspection of 100% of the network classified as having a high probability of leakage, defined as the sum of:

  • high pressure network;
  • network mad of non-compliant materials according to the requirements of 574/2013 (steel with ineffective cathodic protection, materials other than steel and polyethylene);
  • network laid in areas subject to hydrogeological instability.

The network with high probability of leakage that was inspected was consistent with the network inspected in 2016. Some small changes compared to 2016 are due to the change in network extension as a result of the performance of cathodic protection systems.

In 2017, the criteria for planning and carrying out gas network inspections, as set out in the Group’s operating instructions, were applied, with the objective of increasing the inspection effectiveness pursuant to Aeegsi’s Resolution 574/2013. Furthermore, in 2017, gas network inspections were carried out completely by internal personnel thus ensuring a high quality service. In addition, in 2017 Inrete planned and carried out a series of inspection campaigns for underground and air connections in the Ravenna area.

Scheduled searches for gas leaks continued throughout 2017, applied also to above-ground system components, in particular:

  • the systematic check for the absence of leaks on network elements (valves, vents, crossings, etc.) is carried out during scheduled periodic operating/maintenance activities;
  • Concurrent with routine operations on meters, (e.g. activations, closures, checks on metering assemblies), an instrumental check on the absence of leaks on the above-ground connection and the meter affected is carried out.