First Gas has been given a tick of approval for its handling of a defect on the Maui gas transmission pipeline that threatened the gas supply to the upper North Island.

Independent consultants Advisian said the approach First Gas took to identify and manage the risk to the major gas pipeline was appropriate.

“First Gas led a response that appropriately managed risks to the pipeline, a remedy to be implemented safely, and a return to normality for all customers within a short timeframe,” the Advisian report said.

A crease caused by land movement was discovered during routine monitoring of the Maui pipeline mid-last year at Pariroa in North Taranaki.

The defect threatened the gas supply to the entire upper North Island. Tens of thousands of consumers, from major industry to gas producers and shippers who transport the gas, as well as factories, hospitals, homes and business throughout the central and northern North Island depend on a constant and reliable gas supply from the Maui pipeline.

During September and October last year, First Gas and its contractors built an 850-metre bypass of the pipe. Over a weekend in late November, the Maui pipeline was shut down for 27 hours so the bypass could be connected.

First Gas worked with major gas users before carrying out the work to agree to a time that would minimise the impact of the outage. Click here for a copy of the report.

The Advisian report comes on the back of the Risk Management Review of Gas Pipeline Businesses by independent experts AECOM for the New Zealand Commerce Commission, that found the First Gas transmission business was the highest scoring, or close to the highest scoring, organisation within each of the risk management categories assessed by AECOM.

The rating was “commendable” considering First Gas Limited was “very new” and had needed to make changes to systems and approaches established by the previous owners, the AECOM report said.

First Gas was established in 2016 by owners First State Funds following the acquisition of Vector’s gas transmission and distribution network, and the Maui pipeline, from Shell (now OMV) and Todd.

“We were impressed by the demonstrated use of systems and risk principles to drive actions. We were also impressed with the clear evidence throughout the First Gas offices that risk was a high priority, and that there was a strong culture of continuous improvement,” the AECOM report said.

First Gas Chief Executive Paul Goodeve said the findings of both independent reports were encouraging and showed the company was on track with its management, monitoring and maintenance of its gas pipelines.

“There’s always room for improvement though and we will continue to raise the bar to ensure our pipelines continue to provide a safe, reliable and secure supply of gas for all the thousands of users, big and small, who are supplied by our pipelines,” Mr Goodeve said.

With its head office in New Plymouth, First Gas is New Zealand’s largest owner and operator of gas pipelines, with more than 2,500km of high pressure gas transmission pipes and about 4,800km of gas distribution pipes in the North Island.  The First Gas Group includes New Zealand’s largest LPG retailer Rockgas, and the Ahuroa gas storage facility near Stratford. First Gas’ focus is a safe, reliable supply of gas and LPG to more than 165,000 customers throughout New Zealand.