Securing our network: optimizing safety for our 11 million customers
We are committed to providing natural gas to every customer, every day, managing a very extensive gas distribution network of more than 200,000 km of pipes that run through more than 9,000 cities, towns and villages. Network safety is the cornerstone of our activity: while ensuring the supply quality of natural gas and protecting the environment, our main priority is to guarantee the safety of people and assets. To reach this goal, we monitor the natural gas network at all times. We have developed an industrial strategy over the years, built on a sustained level of investment and a rigorous program of monitoring and maintenance.
The natural gas distribution network includes all the pipes, valves, meters, taps and other technical assets that deliver natural gas to households and businesses. In France, the distribution grid is more than 200,000 km long (the equivalent of 5 times the Earth’s circumference). GRDF is responsible for constructing, operating and developing this gas infrastructure, and ensuring its economic and industrial performance. This requires an unfailing attention to ensuring safety and security at all phases of installation and operation.
Certified network performance
Our highly innovative natural gas infrastructure is designed in full compliance with regulations. The location of pipes and valves is strictly regulated and monitored during construction, as is the condition of all the elements on an ongoing basis.
Our management system is ISO 9001 (quality) and ISO 14001 (environment) certified throughout all our natural gas distribution activities in France: solid proof of the quality of our actions and our desire to constantly improve.
In the area of design and construction work, we have based our industrial policy on three key principles:
- rigorous controls on technical quality and regulatory compliance of all new works,
- reciprocal commitments of quality and performance with subcontractors,
- development of innovative technologies.
Each year, GRDF conducts inspections on some 70,000 km of pipes. The task is performed by teams using Network Monitoring Vehicles (NMV), which detect and locate any potential leak from underground pipes. In addition, preventive actions are carried out on foot every day by GRDF technicians, using a portable device connected to a suction tube. Alongside daily network monitoring, systematic controls are conducted after any event that could potentially cause deterioration.
GRDF’s geo-positioning system makes it possible to precisely locate all the networks and connections throughout France. The company is investing heavily to digitize the mapping of all new natural gas installations and improve the reliability of the existing mapping system. 300 GRDF cartographers perform daily updates on the network’s status.
Working closely with contractors and network operators
Preventing damage to the natural gas network caused by local construction works is also essential. We use every resource available to coordinate our safety efforts with those of all parties involved (contractors, public works companies and network operators). Central to this approach are training programs and common conventions intended to improve the safety not only of employees and local residents, but also of property.
- modernizing the network (50%),
- providing maintenance and repair services for our customers (25%),
- monitoring the network and training professionals in their specialized areas (25%).
A modern and innovative network
GRDF is integrating more and more technologies for a greener, safer and more competitive energy system. GRDF invested €43 million in Research & Development (R&D) projects between 2016 and 2019. During the period 2020-2023, we intend to increase our R&D budget to approximately €63 million.
Our R&D programs are geared to topics strategic for our development. Our research orientations are:
smart gas grids,
grid safety and operational excellence,
the flexibility and safety of customers’ installations.