Safety in the business culture
The gas that Snam transports every day meets the energy needs of businesses and households. This means that customers and consumers place great emphasis on the value of accessible prices and a high-quality, uninterrupted service.
This also has to be the primary goal of any entity responsible for developing and managing network infrastructure. But Snam is well aware of the other value that is also a priority for everybody: being able to use gas wherever necessary, at home and in business, with the guarantee of safety for both people and property.
Snam has therefore always put safety first, making it the linchpin of its corporate culture and rooting it primarily in people, encouraging the growth of technical and operational knowledge so that gas represents a safe and reliable energy source for everyone.
Against this background, service security, continuity and quality are intrinsically linked and represent a shared value.
During the year, Snam was also a key adviser to the government on the preparation of the National Energy Strategy document and a major player in the strategic critical infrastructure project managed by the civil protection department of the Lombardy Region. The ultimate aim of this project is to define operating procedures aimed at limiting the impact of severe weather or man-made events on energy, road, transportation and telecoms infrastructure.
Network oversight and maintenance GRI - G4: PR1
During a normal year, plants and pipes periodically undergo inspections and maintenance operations.
In the transportation segment, for example, the course of the pipelines is inspected regularly on foot, by land vehicles and by helicopter fly-overs to detect potentially dangerous situations caused, for example, by third-party work near the pipelines. Similarly, any land slippage at specific points of the route is also kept under surveillance. The integrity of the pipes is also monitored by inserting intelligent devices inside them to identify any defects (intelligent pigs).
The 11 gas compression stations situated along the 32,000 km of pipeline network are controlled directly by the recently renovated dispatching unit at San Donato Milanese, which is responsible for ensuring that pressure levels are sufficient to meet demand.
The dispatching unit is a strategic infrastructure that manages gas flows in the national transportation network: its 24/7 operations room monitors and remotely controls the main pipelines and the compression stations of the Italian gas system. A 46-m2 video wall gives operators an overview of the national gas transportation network, showing the major points of interest and related information.
The dispatching unit regulates and controls the national gas transportation system to ensure that it functions safely, reliably and efficiently, and it also oversees balancing on the basis of actual gas demand, which can fluctuate significantly on a daily and seasonal basis.
In distribution, Snam regularly undertakes inspections and maintenance operations at its gas reduction plans, and continually checks the condition of the steel pipes: in 2013, approximately 10,079 significant points on the network were monitored, and approximately 29,000 specific measurements were taken. More than 23,000 km of network were inspected.
Preventative checks on the reliability of the distribution system by seeking atmospheric gas dispersions is an important source of information used to decide what action to take. To make the otherwise odourless and colourless gas detectable when it is dispersed, Snam uses odorisation plants equipped with innovative automated injection systems, which measure out quantities of odoriser according to the volumes of gas distributed.
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Oversight and inspection of transportation activity
Network inspected using intelligent pigs (km)
Network inspected with helicopter fly-overs (km)
In 2013, business continuity and crisis management were again two areas of special focus for the Company, and it continued its activities in this regard, with the aim of continuous improvement in the business continuity management system. Work stations were created at alternative offices for the Group’s critical processes; a specific training course on the subject will be delivered in e-learning format in 2014 to everybody in Snam’s critical processes with a key role in the event of emergency; development began on an IT system to support business continuity processes; test plans were structured to assess the operational efficiency of business continuity; and, finally, programme compliance with international standards and regulations was assessed.
Infrastructure safety: drill programmes
Within the infrastructure safety framework, Snam and the operating companies that it controls pursue their own improvement targets, including by taking part in institutional drill programmes.
In 2013, the main national drills in which Snam took part related to earthquake and volcanic risks with submarine involvement, giving rise to tidal waves. These involve information exchange and the sharing of methods and practices, with the institutions overseeing infrastructure safety and the companies providing essential services for the welfare of the country. In this context, Snam collaborates with the Italian Department of Civil Protection, with the aim of strengthening the management model for emergency response in procedural, organisational, training and operational terms.
In the procedural and organisational domain, Snam has adopted the revisions to the national assistance programme for earthquake risk, which are highly relevant to the restoration of infrastructure and networks required for continuity in economic and productive activity and the return to normal conditions in the country. Snam also structured this approach in more detail when the national emergency plans for the active volcanic areas in Campania were revised and adjusted its own operating practices, impact assessment procedures and the relative mitigation measures.
In June, Snam took part in the training initiative organised by the Department of Civil Protection on natural risks in Campania for transportation companies and companies providing essential services, with the aim of adopting emergency plans relating to volcanic risks.
Organisational structure of distribution emergency management
For its operating activities, Snam uses an organisational structure that is based around:
- an integrated national supervision centre (remote control of plants, receipt and management of intervention requests);
- operating units, located throughout the region served, that are expressly dedicated to intervention management.
The integrated centre, which comprises two supervision sites at Turin and Naples, is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In 2013 it received about 663,000 calls: 125,000 of these generated interventions by the operating units in the region.
The efficient, closely connected system of plant remote control ensures timely intervention in the event of anomalies or limited or interrupted service.
The system, which is constantly monitored by the integrated supervision centre, allows us to:
- immediately record the volumes of gas entering the network and the parameters of the auxiliary plants, required for any regulatory manoeuvres;
- document any anomalies and the corrective action taken in response;
- process the data monitored.
Data from remote control and remote reading are made immediately available throughout Italy telematically, so that the operating units have a continually updated picture of the status of the distribution system.