CSR Charter ⅠCreating Value for Customers
Safety and Security 3: Distribution Stage
Principle and Outline
To ensure stable city gas supply, Osaka Gas has renovated the processing facilities and built gas pipeline networks in accordance with meticulously devised plans. In so doing, we have strengthened our foundation to secure a high level of gas supply.
We work to improve aging gas pipelines and implement flood damage measures for pressure regulators (governors) to improve resilience in the event of large-scale disasters. We have an emergency repair dispatch system that operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, enabling us to respond to emergencies at any time. We have also been striving to develop human resources in the area of security to enhance the skills of security staff and carry that expertise forward into the future.
In preparation for the legal unbundling of utilities to be implemented in 2022 in Japan as part of power and gas system reform, on April 1, 2019, we changed the name of the Pipeline Business Unit to “Network Company.” We are improving its neutrality and transparency, while preparing to make the business entity independent in response to changes in the business environment.
Flow of city gas supply
Gas produced at LNG processing terminals is sent to a gas holder via high-pressure or medium-pressure pipes for stockpiling. Gas is then sent to a pressure governor, a device used to adjust gas pressure to a certain level, before it is delivered to customers.
Development of a Wide-Area Gas Pipeline Network
Building a wide-area gas pipeline network
The Daigas Group has a network of pipelines (gas pipes) extending more than 60,000 km, covering the entire Kansai region to deliver city gas to its customers. Gas is sent from the terminal at high pressure, which is then gradually reduced to medium and low pressure by gas pressure regulators installed along the pipelines. Also situated along this network of pipelines are gas holders that allow temporary storage and thus more effective control of fluctuations in demand. This system ensures that customers throughout the network whether they are in homes, office buildings, or factories get a safe and stable supply of gas.
These pipelines are constantly being expanded in line with our long-term supply plans.
Safety Measures During Supply
Monitoring and replacing gas pipes
Osaka Gas, which delivers gas to its customers via pipelines, recognizes that it is crucial to keep these pipes safe and properly maintained. We are constantly replacing old metal pipes with pipes made of polyethylene, which is highly durable and earthquake resistant.
Security measures to prevent accidents
We also have the following security measures to prevent the occurrence of accidents.
- Regular inspection of gas pipes along the pipeline networks to ensure there are no gas leaks
- Inspection and repair of facilities including regulators, valves, and gas pipes on bridges
- Meetings with contractors who are doing excavation work for water and sewage pipes, and electrical and phone lines near Osaka Gas pipelines, as well as inspection of the work sites, before, during, and after the work
Integrated system for monitoring and controlling the gas supply
The Central Control Room of the Osaka Gas head office ensures a safe supply of gas 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
We have a gas supply monitoring and control system that keeps a constant watch on gas, from the LNG terminals to every corner of the pipeline network. The system constantly gathers data on gas pressure, flow volume, and irregularities from points around the network, providing integrated control through remote operation that controls production and supply and detects any problems.
Improving response capabilities to sand blasting
On June 20, 2011, a gas supply accident occurred due to sand blasting in Rakusai New Town, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto City. Acting on the accident, Osaka Gas developed and installed anti-accident system called, “BRIDGE,” which is aimed at supporting response action in the initial stage of supply outage, from the receipt of a report of the incident, to identifying the areas subject to supply suspension.
Osaka Gas will continue to conduct drills against sand blasting and further enhance safety and security measures.
Emergency Response System and Anti-disaster Measures
Taking calls and responding all day, every day
It is particularly important to establish an initial response system in the event of accidents and natural disasters, and act appropriately in response to such events.
Osaka Gas has established a unified security system covering the entire supply area. Under the system, if gas leakage occurs, the Central Control Room at the Head Office will take charge of all relevant duties, including receiving an accident report and dispatching security staff to the accident site. Specifically, the Central Control Room will order the dispatch of the emergency vehicle that can reach the accident site the fastest by taking various factors into consideration, such as availability of vehicles and their locations.
The Central Control Room accepts emergency reports such as on gas leakage around the clock via dedicated telephone lines set up at the Room. After an accident is reported, emergency staff will be sent to the site immediately and work in close collaboration with local police and fire department.
Three types of response to emergency calls
To ensure that security measures are prompt and appropriate, Osaka Gas has the following three types of emergency response to a call from a customer. We carry out constant training of employees to improve their ability to handle emergencies.
- General response: When there is no danger of an accident occurring, we dispatch a service patrol car to the scene.
- Emergency response: When an accident has occurred or is likely to occur, as a rule we dispatch a team of two or more people to the scene in an emergency vehicle.
- Special response: When a serious accident has occurred that cannot be handled by an emergency response, a special three-phase response is launched to match the type of accident.
Measures against possible large-scale earthquakes
Osaka Gas has always had a range of measures for dealing with large earthquakes, such as earthquake-resistant polyethylene pipes (PE), intelligent meters that detect vibrations from the earthquake and shut off the gas supply, as well as an emergency communications network. However, the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake of 1995 prompted us to step up these measures. We have seismometers installed in 259 locations in the Osaka Gas service area, which allow us to quickly determine the seismic intensity and other information.
To prevent secondary damage from earthquakes, the service area is divided into blocks, each of which can have its gas supplies shut off separately. This is possible thanks to a system of automatic gas shutoff devices which installed seismoscope in case of a tremor, as well as remote shutoff devices that can be activated to stop gas supplies from the Central Control Room of the head office. If the Central Control Room is physically damaged, a sub-center set up with a similar function will take over its task.
In addition, we are also making constant efforts to improve employees' ability to respond to emergencies, such as company-wide earthquake drills and education using e-learning.
In FY2019, a company-wide earthquake drill and a drill in line with the business continuity plan (BCP) were conducted simultaneously to identify issues arising from the execution of both response to disasters and efforts for ensuring business continuity. About 2,000 employees participated in these drills, which were based on the scenario of an anticipated magnitude 8.7 Nankai Trough-epicenter earthquake. In the training, President Honjo headed a task force, set up at the headquarters, whose mission was to improve initial disaster response. A key part of this effort is shutting off gas supply through a coastal disaster prevention shutoff system to prevent secondary damage from a tsunami.
The company also examined issues of disaster mitigation and service resumption related to the June 2018 earthquake in northern Osaka Prefecture to make further improvements and enhance our disaster mitigation capabilities.
Weather data collection system enabling Osaka Gas to grasp information on accumulated rainfall during typhoons, torrential rain and landslide disasters in an integrated manner
Osaka Gas developed a system to obtain weather information, such as accumulated rainfall during typhoons and torrential rain and landslide disasters, in an integrated manner. The system, dubbed “the typhoon and torrential rain information system,” began operation in July 2015.
Previously, Osaka Gas had collected weather information by separately referring to websites operated by such organizations as the Japan Meteorological Agency and the Ministry of Land, Transportation and Tourism. The new system enables the Company to gather weather data in its service area in an integrated manner and more expeditiously.
Operation of “BRIDGE” disaster recovery support system and “OG-DRESS” mobile-based reporting system for support of disaster recovery
Various in-house organizations must work in close cooperation to restore gas supply suspended because of a disaster or accident. This requires that information on conditions at trouble spots be shared immediately.
Osaka Gas developed the “BRIDGE” disaster recovery support system to centrally manage real-time information from the onset of a disaster/accident through recovery, and put this system into operation in April 2012. The system links up map information with customer information, making it possible to “visualize” recovery actions by centrally managing on-site progress and reducing the time needed to complete recovery work.
In addition, the “OG-DRESS” mobile-based reporting system aimed at supporting disaster recovery has been established, enabling reporting on completion of recovery work via mobile phone. Based on such a system, we will make our response actions in the event of a disaster expeditious.
Our Recovery Visualization System
Osaka Gas has developed a “recovery visualization system” that provides easy-to-understand information on the restoration of gas service to customers living in areas where gas supply has been cut off due to a major earthquake. In the event of a major earthquake, the top page of our website switches to an emergency-use page that provides status updates on gas supply stoppage and restoration using this system.
The recovery visualization system has five status levels for gas recovery: Supply disconnected, Roadway gas pipes under inspection, Roadway gas pipes being repaired, Customer gas equipment under inspection and being connected, and Completion of call for inspection and connection. These recovery progress status levels can be viewed in two ways—either on a map by color, or on a list by area.
We will continue to improve our emergency response measures following an earthquake or other cataclysmic event, work to prevent fires, and deliver city gas to our customers with greater safety and stability.
Passing on Advanced Knowledge and Skills in Safety and Disaster Prevention
Osaka Gas is striving to nurture human resources with a high level of knowledge and skill in the areas of safety and disaster prevention.
At natural gas processing terminals, we introduced an operation training simulator (OTS) in FY2005 to train employees to be able to respond to emergencies, including technical glitches, expeditiously. In FY2017, a virtual reality (VR) function using animation was added to the OTS, enabling trainees to experience serious accidents such as fire under the VR setting, a situation they rarely face in the real world. The upgraded OTS has been instrumental in improving employees' safety and disaster-prevention skills to be passed on to the next generation.
In FY2008, a human resources development system was launched by the Human Resources Development Center belonging to the Pipeline Business Unit (renamed “Network Company” on April 1, 2019) in preparation for the mandatory retirement of veteran engineers. We are engaged in structured and systematic human resources development as well as educational efforts “to spread know-why” that teach the meaning and background of work procedures to build a framework (safety culture) that prevents accidents. To convey the lessons learned from various past failures, we have set up experiential-type training facilities that reproduce the circumstances at the time of these failures.
Moreover, the Human Resources Development Center of the Pipeline Business Unit has sponsored a pipeline work contest among employees with high levels of skills and knowledge in the field. The contest, started in 2015, is designed to enhance the overall safety level of Osaka Gas.
In addition, a variety of training is being offered at the Human Resources Growth Center, which provides education on safety and disaster prevention at LNG terminals, and at the respective Human Resource Development Centers of the Residential Energy Business Unit and the Commercial & Industrial Energy Business Unit, which are responsible for gas pipes and gas appliances on customer premises.