99.6%
compliance with quality standards
set by the Authority for four services
9.6
minutes average waiting time
at help desks and chance to book
an appointment with an operator
399
thousand analyses
carried out on Group drinking water,
1,100 per day, of which 63% on the
distribution 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.

The network classified as having a high probability of dispersion is meant as the sum of:

  • high pressure network;
  • network made of non-compliant materials as required by ARERA’s Resolution;
  • network laid in areas subject to hydrogeological instability.

For this type of network, 100% of the network must be inspected annually.

The resolution mentioned above governs the quality of the gas distribution service, and has further increased the safety standards for the current regulatory period (2014-2019). This rise was substantially 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 odorizing 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 odorizing 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 odorizing plants (flow-proportional, remote controlled injection-type odorizing plants).

For 2018, the Regulatory Authority has not yet approved the economic values of bonuses and penalties for Inrete. 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 1.4 million. In particular, positive results were obtained both for the component relating to odorization and for the component regarding leaks reported by third parties. In 2019 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. For AcegasApsAmga, in 2018, incentives for odorization are estimated at Euro 312 thousand, as well as incentives for dispersions for Euro 848 thousand, net of the penalties expected mainly for the plants in the province of Gorizia. Compared to the previous year, the Trieste plant benefited from the incentives as it complied with the obligations set out in point 35.4 of the RQDG (95% upgrading of unprotected steel pipelines).

Gas emergency service
  2016 2017 2018
Average arrival time at the call location (min.) 34.9 37.4 36.5
Calls with arrival time at the call location within 60 minutes (%) (service obligation 90%) 97.5% 96.2% 96.7%

 

Resolution ARERA 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 2018 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 odour 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 2018 the Group intervened within 60 minutes for 96.7% of the over 22 thousand calls received. AcegasApsAmga recorded 99.7% for this indicator while Marche Multiservizi recorded 96.3%.

Inspections and leaks in the gas network
  2016 2017 2018
Percentage of total high and medium pressure network inspected (service obligation 100% in 3 years) 56.3% 58.0% 60.5%
Percentage of total low pressure network inspected (service obligation 100% in 4 years) 78.1% 74.7% 78.9%
Number of leaks on distribution network located upon inspection per kilometre of network 0.065 0.059 0.114
Number of leaks on distribution network located upon notification by third parties, per kilometre of network 0.041 0.037 0.035

 

In 2018, the percentage of the grid that was inspected was significantly above 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 was over 60% and the low pressure grid was 79%.

In 2018 the scheduled inspections of the network, network elements and gas metering units were performed by internal staff, ensuring the highest quality of service and compliance with ARERA’s regulations and with the Group’s 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. In 2018, as part of the data analysis and application of the algorithm, we decided to start another project consisting in the development of a dynamic optimization workframe for scheduled gas leak detection work on gas networks, which will be available from January 2019.

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

In 2018, in the Group’s entire gas distribution network, 35 leaks were reported by third parties, per thousand kilometres of network, compared to 37 in 2018. On the other hand, in 2018, 114 leaks were identified by means of inspections on the Group’s distribution network per thousand kilometres of network, compared to 59 in 2017. The number of third-party leakages on buried networks following notification decreased compared to 2018, while the number of planned inspections for leaks has increased, proving that the plan for planned inspections of leaks on high-risk and obsolescent networks is effective.

The network with high probability of leakage that was inspected was consistent with the network inspected in 2017. In 2018, 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 ARERA’s Resolution 574/2013. Furthermore, in 2018, gas network inspections were carried out completely by internal staff thus ensuring a high quality service. In addition, in 2018, Hera’s distribution company, Inrete, continued to plan and execute a series of inspection campaigns for underground and above-ground connections.

Scheduled searches for gas leaks continued throughout 2018, 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), a check using instruments is carried out to verify the absence of leaks on the above-ground connection and meter.