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La revue soGaz #5

Industrial safety

An effective and safe transmission system

Portrait of Xavier Merlin : Head of Sector GRTgaz

Transmission via underground pipelines is far safer than transportation by train or truck and GRTgaz considers safety its top priority.


A robust network

  • Our pipework is manufactured from steel and the pipe welding is inspected using X-ray or ultrasound. 
  •  An isolated coating, combined with cathodic protection, shields the pipelines from the threat of corrosion. 
  • In rocky soil, the trenches are adapted to protect the gas pipeline's isolated coating. 
  • In urban areas, enhanced protective features are added to pipework, such as an upper steel layer for example.

Constant supervision

Excavation activities and farming work can pose a threat to the integrity of gas pipelines. GRTgaz has implemented the following preventive measures to head off this risk:

  • Thorough marking of gas pipeline routes to indicate their presence. 
  • The use of mailshots to inform residents about the proximity of pipelines and what steps to take to preserve their integrity. 
  • Efforts to provide information in town halls, to public works companies and to farmers to give a reminder of regulatory requirements on the declaration of planned works near buried structures. 
  • Frontline support for public works companies that have declared their planned works in compliance with regulation.


The entire network is remotely monitored around the clock and checked:

  • by car between once per week and once per month; 
  • by helicopter or plane once or twice per month; 
  • on foot once per year, only in the case of areas that cannot be checked by air or road.


More stringent checks are made nearby urban and industrial areas.

Aerial surveillance in Rhône-Méditerranée Area - May 5, 2011
Aerial surveillance in Rhône-Méditerranée Area

Vigilant maintenance and monitoring

  • Since 1999, GRTgaz has undertaken a systematic programme of cathodic protection monitoring and pipework inspection across its entire network using surface electric measurements or the insertion of instrumented pigs. 
  • In keeping with the French Decree of 4 August 2006, GRTgaz has completed an analysis of the surroundings of structures, finalised the safety studies and prepared a programme of measurements aimed at enhancing network safety. 
  • All of the technical characteristics of the pipelines and their geographical environment are collected and centrally stored in a new geographical information system (GIS) that can be easily accessed by operators: Micado. 
  • In addition, GRTgaz has acquired a new geographical information system and is equipping 900 employees with "Nomade" portable digital tablets, which will enable them to send their observations and call-out data in real time. This also means greater safety, higher performance and more availability.