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New CGA reports highlight mapping and better contracts as key to improving damage outcomes

  • 20 October 2022
  • Author: Sarah Daley
  • Number of views: 118

This week, we’re taking a closer look at another key takeaway featured in CGA’s newest White Paper, “Natural Gas: Leading the Damage Prevention Industry.” Based on quantitative and qualitative natural gas stakeholder research, the third key takeaway in the White Paper notes that “improving locating through greater emphasis on mapping and fair contracts could help improve U.S. damage prevention as a whole.” Mapping and fair contracts are two opportunities identified by CGA’s Next Practices Initiative as having the potential to reduce damage incidents, and the need for greater adoption of these strategies is echoed in much of CGA’s primary research as well as the newly released 2021 DIRT Report.

While more than 50% of damage prevention stakeholders view locating issues as the biggest contributor to damages, the natural gas industry is less focused on locating issues as damage drivers: Only 7% of natural gas survey respondents and a third of leadership interviewees view locating issues as the leading cause of damages. For their part, 99% of locators interviewed for CGA’s Locator White Paper indicated that more up-to-date maps would help them deliver timelier and more accurate locates.

Root cause data from the 2021 DIRT Report released last week reveals that locating issues – including those due to inaccurate or outdated maps – account for more than a third of all reported damages. The Report also recommends that stakeholders “identify methodology to measure and document the impact of greater availability of improved/accurate maps on the damage prevention process” to help quantify the impact of better mapping on the large portion of damages caused by locating issues.

As such an influential sector of the damage prevention industry, natural gas stakeholders – and all facility owner/operators – have an opportunity to significantly impact locating-related damages by providing highly accurate and up-to-date facility maps.

According to the 2021 DIRT Report, excavation issues are also primary damage drivers. Top individual root causes within the excavation issues group include failure to maintain clearance and failure to pothole, which together contributed to almost 20% of all reported damages last year. The DIRT Report recommends that the damage prevention industry apply a laser focus to targeting the handful of root causes that consistently contribute to the vast majority of damages, and CGA’s Next Practices Initiative and Natural Gas White Paper both emphasize how facility owner/operators’ contracts can have a direct impact on locating and excavating practices. Southwest Gas, for example, implemented “best value” contracts prioritizing damage prevention and saw more than 20% decrease in damages to its facilities in just over two years.

By reviewing CGA’s recommendations provided by the DIRT ReportWhite Papers and Next Practices Initiative, and focusing investment on mapping capabilities and restructured locate contracts, facility owner/operators can make significant changes in damage prevention outcomes.

Click here to read the full Natural Gas White Paper for an in-depth look at all four key takeaways, and visit dirt.commongroundalliance.com to read the newly published 2021 DIRT Report.

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