Natural Gas Utilities Review Peers to Elevate Safety

Natural Gas Utilities Review Peers to Elevate Safety

Natural Gas Utilities Review Peers to Elevate Safety

October 15, 2014

AGA Announces National Peer Review Program

Washington, D.C. – The American Gas Association (AGA) today announced the creation of a voluntary industry effort to further enhance the safe and reliable delivery of natural gas to homes and businesses throughout North America. The AGA Board of Directors has approved the first-ever national AGA Peer Review Program, a peer-to-peer safety and operational practices review program that will allow local natural gas utilities to observe their peers, share leading practices and identify opportunities to better serve customers and communities. Beginning in 2015, companies from the more than 200 local natural gas utilities that make up AGA’s membership will volunteer to team up in peer groups of 3-4 companies to visit one another’s facilities and conduct detailed reviews focusing on key aspects of pipeline and employee safety.

“By implementing this groundbreaking voluntary peer review program, America’s local natural gas utilities are demonstrating their commitment to continually enhancing the safety and reliability of the more than 2.1 million miles of pipelines they operate,” said AGA President and CEO Dave McCurdy. “This program allows experienced, knowledgeable and dedicated natural gas utility professionals to engage in detailed, face-to-face discussions focused on safety, thereby helping each company strengthen its practices and processes, and ultimately leading to an even safer natural gas industry.”

The development of the National AGA Peer Review Program follows the successful completion of a pilot program conducted from June 2013 through March 2014, involving ten AGA member companies. While other industry sectors have implemented peer safety reviews, this is the first program of its kind in the natural gas utility industry to be taken to a national level. The national program will examine aspects of safe natural gas operations including Safety Culture, Pipeline Safety Risk Management and Technical Training and Worker Procedures. Once companies have completed reviews of these topics, they will have the opportunity to participate in reviews of other areas, including Construction and Contractor Oversight, Emergency Preparedness and Response and Public Awareness, Damage Prevention, Quality Control, and Workforce Development.

Safety is a core value for AGA and its member companies. Working with public officials, regulators, safety advocates and other key stakeholders has fostered robust oversight to help ensure public safety, but AGA and its members advance safety even further through voluntary actions like the Peer Review Program and continued improvements to delivery systems as part of their Commitment to Enhancing Safety. Natural gas utilities spend more than $19 billion annually to monitor, maintain and upgrade natural gas distribution and transmission systems, and the industry is committed to pipeline safety awareness programs to help ensure customers and communities understand natural gas safety principles. These continuing efforts help ensure that Americans can safely enjoy the economic, environmental and energy security benefits of the nation’s domestic abundance of natural gas.

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The American Gas Association, founded in 1918, represents more than 200 local energy companies that deliver clean natural gas throughout the United States. There are more than 71 million residential, commercial and industrial natural gas customers in the U.S., of which 94 percent — over 68 million customers — receive their gas from AGA members. Today, natural gas meets almost one-fourth of the United States’ energy needs.