Gasunie in society

Corporate social responsibility

Providing a safe and uninterrupted gas supply is our primary task, which we perform with due respect for our environment.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and social commitment are very important to Gasunie. We have a public role, and through our activities we make a significant contribution to society. Providing a safe and uninterrupted gas supply is our primary task, which we perform with due respect for our environment. In 2014, our policy and our objectives with regard to social aspects of doing business were the same as the objectives in the previous reporting year. 

Core themes

Our CSR core themes are derived from our strategy and contribute to achieving our objectives. We have visualised the key aspects of our CSR policy in what we refer to as a ‘CSR house’. Its foundation is formed by good performance in the fields of safety, security of supply, and care for our employees. Our satisfactory performance in these fields determines our licence to operate – only then can we start building the rest of the house. Building on this foundation, there are three themes with which we want to further distinguish ourselves in the future: energy transition, environs management and footprint reduction/sustainable procurement. We have selected these themes because we think that, in the coming years, they will be very important to us in carrying out our strategy properly. We will elaborate on the activities and results in these areas in Results in the fields of safety and the environment.

CSR house

Energy in transition

We are convinced that there are many ways in which gas and gas infrastructure can contribute to a sustainable energy supply. They contribute to keeping the development of renewable energy (such as wind and solar energy) reliable and affordable. By deploying gas as a flexible partner for generating electricity, optimum use is made of the existing infrastructure. Moreover, gas is an energy carrier that is also developing into a renewable type of energy through the production of green gas and hydrogen. The first steps in the transition towards a sustainable energy supply are challenging for a number of reasons, such as financing and the state of technological developments. Where possible, we strive to take these steps in collaboration with other parties, both inside and outside our chain. In this way, we aim to maximise our chances of success. Regarding the energy transition, we focus on the following areas, which are elaborated on in more detail elsewhere in this annual report:

  • Power-to-gas
  • Green gas
  • Break-bulk LNG
  • Decentralised energy generation

Strategic environs management

The environment in which we operate consists of a growing number of stakeholders from various parts of society, such as political parties (both local and national), local residents and environmental groups and associations, each with their own interests. In our activities, we try to take our surrounding communities into account as much as possible. We aim to identify in advance any problems, concerns or objections they may have with regard to our activities, so that we can take these into account as much as possible. We involve the relevant parties whenever possible. In doing so, we are increasingly making use of a structural environs management method: Strategic Environs Management (SEM). The SEM approach has led to good results at other organisations in the Netherlands. The aim is to organise our contacts with surrounding communities in such a way that we can identify possible conflicts of interest at an early stage and solve them together.

In our activities, we try to take our surrounding communities into account as much as possible.

In 2014, we first implemented the SEM method in our organisation. We will be using it on a small scale for some projects that start in 2015. We will also consider the positive experiences and results other organisations have achieved using SEM, including the Port of Rotterdam. We have also started using online tools for communicating with our surrounding communities, such as Facebook and Twitter. Our new website, Gasuniebouwt.nl, gives stakeholders direct insight into our activities and gives them an opportunity to get in touch with us. When we were building the North-South route, this approach proved very successful and was clearly appreciated by our stakeholders.

Stakeholder dilemmas

In our work, we are continuously balancing the interests of different stakeholders. Our activities can sometimes cause a public nuisance. This results in dilemmas that, each time, require a good balancing of interests and good dialogue with the people who are directly involved.
In 2014, pipelines and other materials had to be transported for the construction of pipelines between the compressor stations at Beverwijk and Wijngaarden. Such transport can cause a nuisance for communities in the vicinity. In consultation with the various local stakeholders, including the local authorities, we determined how this nuisance could be prevented or limited as far as possible. In this case, we decided to employ traffic regulators, who escorted the transports on motor bikes on the sections of the route through Ouderkerk aan de IJssel to the slip road towards the section on Kattendijk in Gouderak. There were costs involved, but we gave priority to safety interests and limiting the nuisance for the affected communities.
Another dilemma concerned the natural gas buffer EnergyStock, at Zuidwending. The construction and subsequent expansion of the buffer impacts the immediate surroundings. We therefore consulted with the local authorities and nature organisations, among others, on how we could best integrate the buffer into the landscape. Together, we opted for landscaping the installations and caverns, with all due attention being paid to local flora and fauna. Examples include a stork’s nest, nest boxes for falcons, and the introduction of fish into the fire extinguishing ponds. In addition, the ponds are planted with a wide variety of water plants. In the area around the buffer, a number of volunteers have been working for several years on a partridge project, creating a biotope in which partridges thrive. We wanted to contribute to this, and therefore made arrangements with the volunteers involved about the planting of shrubs and berry plants around the station and the caverns, which create a favourable habitat for partridges. Here, too, together with the stakeholders involved, we had to carefully weigh the costs against the landscaping/social benefits.

Footprint reduction/sustainable procurement

We want to limit as much as possible the impact of our activities on the environment (our footprint). Footprint reduction touches the core of our operations. Our footprint reduction programme is aimed at reducing the emission of greenhouse gases by restricting and preventing methane emissions, making maximum use of available energy, and ensuring effective combustion. We can achieve this, for instance, by developing metering and regulating stations that no longer emit methane; by researching alternatives for venting gas, by reusing vented gas and residual heat from compressors, and by saving energy. With our footprint reduction policy, we contribute to government objectives: 20% less CO2 in 2020 (compared to 1990), annual energy savings of 2%, and 14% renewable energy generation in 2020.

From the CO2-neutral 2050 objectives that we aspire to reach together with other European network operators, we have derived the following footprint objectives that contribute to this:

  • One of the objectives for 2014 was to set up a transparent and auditable reporting system for all emission sources that have been identified. We also set a ʻcumulativeʼ objective for 2014 for the reduction of CO2-equivalent emissions. The first level set is a 15 kilotonnes reduction of CO2-equivalent emissions. The second level, which constitutes an even larger challenge for us, is a 20-kilotonnes reduction of CO2 equivalents. (For more details, see Results in the fields of safety and the environment.)
  • By 2020, we aim to have achieved a 20% reduction in direct CO2 emissions (or 93 kilotonnes CO2 equivalent) compared to 1990 (‘20/20 ambition’). This concerns exclusively Scope 1 of the GHG protocol.

By 2030, we will have reduced our CO2 emissions by 40% compared to the emissions in 1990, measured over all scopes (1, 2 and 3) of the GHG protocol. In addition, we are examining how our activities in the field of sustainable procurement can help us achieve our footprint reduction objectives (e.g., by applying the CO2 performance ladder).
We also aim to reduce our footprint through our procurement activities, and we are investigating the most efficient options. Over the past few years, we have therefore been purchasing green gas for our offices (approximately 800,000 m3/year). However, the major part of our electricity consumption relates to the exploitation of our installations. The reason why we have not yet ‘greenified’ this part of our electricity consumption is the high costs involved. As a state-owned company, we wish to use our means responsibly. However, in 2014, we decided to also greenify that part, given the importance of a sustainable energy supply, and we asked electricity suppliers to come up with proposals for green (or greener) electricity for our installations. As of 2016, we will purchase 100% green electricity through certificates (REGOs) that guarantee the origin of green electricity.

Embedding CSR policy and accountability

Our CSR policy and activities are aligned with our strategic objectives. CSR forms an integral part of our business activities. The CSR Steering Group identifies opportunities and developments in the field of CSR. The Executive Board is responsible for formulating our CSR policy and objectives, and for CSR performance in practice. The policy is drawn up in consultation with the Supervisory Board. Each business unit and department within our company is responsible for providing input with regard to CSR policy in its own area of expertise, as well as for executing and adapting the policy. The Executive Board monitors and evaluates progress and results.
CSR forms a fixed part of the targets for both employees and management. The targets are proposed by the business units, and they are set by the Executive Board. The results are determined by the Executive Board and audited and validated by an external auditor. In determining objectives with regard to CSR, the relevant departments are also consulted on whether the necessary preconditions are present and sufficiently embedded within our organisation.

Paul Joosten

A local living near the EnergyStock installation at Zuidwending

Paul Joosten

A local living near the EnergyStock installation at Zuidwending

Paul Joosten lives near the underground gas storage facility at Zuidwending, EnergyStock. He and his family moved from the busy west of the Netherlands to the quieter north two-and-a-half years...

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Paul Joosten lives near the underground gas storage facility at Zuidwending, EnergyStock. He and his family moved from the busy west of the Netherlands to the quieter north two-and-a-half years ago. He has a technical background and is very knowledgeable about energy, as evidenced by the fact that his house won the Public Award for the ‘Best, nicest, most appealing energy-neutral home in the Netherlands 2014’.

‘From the front of my house I have a virtually unobstructed view until the next village. From the back, we can see EnergyStock, but we hardly notice it. Sometimes, at night, we can see the lights of the installation, but they don’t bother us.’

It’s nice to get to know the people who work at the installation. These personal contacts are much appreciated by local residents.

EnergyStock communicates well with us. If something unusual is happening – when they need to flare off for certain activities, for example – we’re told in advance. And the manager of the installation often writes articles in our local newspaper, Dorpenkrant 't Tonckeltje. We appreciate that. It means we know exactly what the installation is for, how it works and what activities are scheduled.

People living in the vicinity of the installation were invited for a guided tour. Because I have a technical background, I enjoyed learning more about the technical details. And when the activities for the last cavern were completed, EnergyStock organised a barbecue for the neighbourhood. It’s nice to get to know the people who work at the installation. These personal contacts are much appreciated by local residents.’

Relationship with stakeholders

Having a good relationship with our environment is very important for our ‘licence to operate’. We maintain strong ties with a large number of stakeholders with whom we have interests in common, such as the shareholder, representatives of national, regional and local politics, authorities, regulatory bodies, employees, the Works Council, our customers, suppliers, the local community, the media and nature conservation and environmental organisations. We are committed to striking the right balance between the interests of everyone involved.

We are committed to striking the right balance between the interests of everyone involved.

Stakeholder portraits

We also value our stakeholders’ opinions when reporting on our results in our annual report. In 2014, for the first time, we therefore carried out a materiality analysis and asked ten stakeholders from different groups for their opinion on their relationship with Gasunie. We summarised the results in stakeholder portraits that can be found throughout this annual report. It should be noted in this respect that, even though our customers are a very important stakeholder group for us, for reasons of non-discrimination, we have not included any customer portraits.

Structural stakeholder dialogue

Internal

Good communication within a company leads to better cooperation and increases the involvement of employees at all levels of the organisation. This is not just a matter of efficiently providing information. Dialogue among employees also improves the working process and mutual cooperation. That is why this has become a key objective in our internal communication policy.
Our intranet, methaNet, plays a central role in our internal communications. It is a personal and interactive tool: employees can share information, comment on messages, respond to each other’s questions and remarks, and discuss issues with each other.

We hold regular staff meetings with the main purpose of exchanging information on a wide range of topics. Some meetings are for employees from all levels of the company, while others are more targeted meetings for departments, business units or managers. At the beginning of each year, all employees are informed about the plans for the year ahead. In addition, we organise thematic sessions on topical issues for which employees can register. In 2014, we organised sessions on sustainable employability and strategy, for instance.

As far as possible, we involve the people who live close to our operations in our plans.

External

We often have a shared interest with external stakeholders, even though we may sometimes have a different perspective. We always try to find constructive ways to keep in touch with our stakeholders, and to this end we create various platforms and opportunities for discussion.

Good relationships with local residents

We consider it very important to maintain good relationships with the people who live near our pipelines and installations. We own and manage one of the most elaborate and densely packed gas transport networks in the world. Over 15,500 kilometres of pipelines lie under the ground in the Netherlands and Germany, in one of the most densely populated areas in the world. This means that we have many ‘neighbours’, and we want to treat them all with respect. Our reputation for doing so, built up over the years, is good – and we would like to keep it that way. That is why, as far as possible, we involve the people who live close to our operations in our plans. We create opportunities for dialogue, such as information and discussion evenings and Open Days. We attach great value to the feedback we receive from our stakeholders during these consultation sessions.

Customers

We also maintain close relationships with our customers, the shippers, through regular annual meetings that we organise for this group. In 2014, GTS again organised ‘Shipper Meetings’. These serve as information meetings and networking platforms. During these meetings, we exchange ideas with customers about developments in the gas market and within GTS.

Governments and authorities

Various parts of our company maintain regular contacts with authorities at many different levels. On the one hand, laws, regulations, policies and other government decisions have a large impact on our activities; on the other hand, due to our role in the provision of energy, we form an important discussion partner for the government. We want to be a serious, constructive partner for governmental authorities. Our activities mean that we frequently need to consult with local and other authorities (e.g., on legislation, regulations and licences), and we are often also involved in consultations at the political level, in particular through our offices in The Hague, Berlin, Brussels and Moscow. On the one hand, our local presence there helps to foster good long-term relationships with governmental stakeholders; and on the other hand, it is easier for the authorities to use our local representatives, who have a great deal of specialist knowledge, as a single point of contact for their questions on gas and gas transport.

Industry organisations

Cross-border or cross-sector policy issues are usually discussed through industry organisations. For this reason, we are members of a number of such organisations, such as Netbeheer Nederland, the European Network for Transmission System Operators Gas (ENTSOG), the International Group of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers (GIIGNL) and Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE). We are also represented on the board of many of these organisations.

Stakeholder event

We value the opinion of those we come into contact with; it is important for us to know how our activities are perceived by the outside world. This also relates to the topic of energy transition, about which there are many different views. On 1 October 2014, we therefore organised a ‘Green gas barbecue’ at Madurodam in The Hague. In this informal setting, a group of almost one hundred of our contacts from various stakeholder categories shared their ideas with us and each other on the challenges we see in the field of sustainability going forward to 2050, our strategy and our objectives. What will the world look like in 2050? What will we be eating, and where will our food come from? How will we be living, and how will we be heating our homes? And for us, at Gasunie: what will we be transporting through our network? Natural gas, green gas, hydrogen, or something we do not yet know about? The members of our Executive Board and Supervisory Board were also present at this meeting. We not only invited representatives from the gas industry, but also from the environment and sustainability sector. The participants said they appreciated the meeting, both in terms of content and as a networking event.

Stakeholder feedback

Customer satisfaction survey

In 2014, GTS again carried out its annual customer satisfaction survey. This year, a new method was used, zooming in on the drivers behind our customers’ assessments. Overall, the shippers gave us a mark of 7.6 (out of 10), while our affiliates gave us a mark of 7.3. These are the highest marks in the past ten years. To encourage participation, we promised to give a donation to the Red Cross for each survey completed. This led to the highest response rate since we started our customer satisfaction surveys, and we were able to donate € 15,000. Our Customer Desk, which was introduced in 2012, particularly received much positive feedback. The results of the survey will be used to further improve our service to our customers.

New platforms

We wish to play an active role in the energy debate so that we can exchange ideas with others on important themes. We are therefore proactively seeking contact with relevant stakeholders. To an increasing extent, these are parties who are involved in the provision of energy from a social point of view (e.g., NGOs and lobby groups) or on the grounds of their profession (e.g., architects or scientists). As a result, we are increasingly present on new platforms. For instance, we became an active participant in the annual sustainability festival, Springtij, on the Dutch island of Terschelling.

Handling complaints

In carrying out our operations, we take our surroundings into account as much as possible. Any complaints we receive – by telephone, email or otherwise – are directed in the first instance to our Corporate Communications department, who then deal with them in consultation with the relevant department. We aim to respond as quickly as possible and to the satisfaction of all parties concerned. Customers of GTS can address their complaints to the GTS Customer Desk.

Marit Koch

Sales Specialist Gasunie Transport Services

Marit Koch

Sales Specialist Gasunie Transport Services

We are a company with a public task – securing the safe and reliable transportation of gas. We focus on our customers. It is important to us that our contacts with them are quick, efficient and...

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We are a company with a public task – securing the safe and reliable transportation of gas. We focus on our customers. It is important to us that our contacts with them are quick, efficient and pleasant. In 2012, we set up a Customer Desk, where our customers can contact us every working day. Marit Koch is a sales specialist in the Customer Sales & Service department and works at the Customer Desk once a week.

We focus on our customers. It is important to us that our contacts with them are quick, efficient and pleasant.

‘We set up the Customer Desk to provide a better service to our customers. We’re always there for them, and deal with their questions quickly and professionally. We keep track of the questions and remarks that we receive. If certain matters come up frequently, we take action to deal with them. An example of this is our website. Customers have told us that they sometimes find our customer portal cumbersome to work with. We’re therefore looking into how we can improve this.

We also hold an annual customer survey in which we ask our customers what they think of GTS in general. We also conduct a periodic quality assessment for the Customer Desk in particular – because we want to continuously improve our services.

Twice a year, we organise meetings for our customers. These informal meetings with our customers are important to us. We tell them about our plans for the coming six months and receive feedback on them immediately. Since our customers have indicated that they appreciate these informal meetings, we are considering holding them more often, perhaps in the form of a Customer Day.’

Frans Talstra

Committee member of local interest group living near our compressor station in Grijpskerk

Frans Talstra

Committee member of local interest group living near our compressor station in Grijpskerk

Frans Talstra is on the committee of a local interest group, called Dorpsbelangenvereniging Aktie ’68 Kommerzijl.

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Frans Talstra is on the committee of a local interest group, called Dorpsbelangenvereniging Aktie ’68 Kommerzijl.

A good neighbour is worth more than a far friend.

‘It’s quite something, having an installation like this near our village and the surrounding farms, with barely 600 residents. But thanks to how it’s been landscaped, you can hardly see it. You need to be vigilant, however, when you notice that Gasunie is doing building work, such as what happened a year or so ago, in preparation for the arrival of new compressors. We’re glad that in such cases we can always contact Gasunie and talk to the installation manager. In this way, we can monitor any public nuisance, such as heavy trucks going through the neighbourhood, changes in noise levels and extra noise when the new compressor installations are tested, the impact on cattle, sheep and deer, the extra lighting during building activities, and the limited accessibility of footpaths and cycle paths in the park. We really appreciate it that the installation manager makes an effort to understand the effects on our village and to take appropriate measures.

We’ve noticed that in the event of large projects, the engineers and managers involved tend to contact the relevant bodies (such as the council and the fire department), but they don’t always immediately think of the nearby village and its inhabitants. But as soon as we sound the alarm, we’re properly brought up to date. We can then publish the information in our local newspaper, to reassure the village.

Nevertheless, our local interest group highly appreciates it that Gasunie has now made practical arrangements in order to provide us proactively with relevant information. In that way, we can keep local residents well informed. As the popular Dutch saying goes: ‘A good neighbour is worth more than a far friend.’

Materiality analysis

In order to determine which topics are relevant for us to report on, we carried out a materiality analysis. The aim of a materiality analysis is to investigate, together with stakeholders, which topics are sufficiently important to be incorporated in the report. We made an estimate of to what extent the following stakeholder groups would find specific topics important: contractors, licensing authorities, people living close to projects and installations, policymakers in the Netherlands, Germany and the EU, interest groups, customers, regulators, financial stakeholders and employees. In addition, we determined the actual and potential impact of the topics for Gasunie. Finally, we tested the results of the materiality analysis with a representative of the Ministry of Finance. It is our ambition to hold an external dialogue next year in order to determine the vertical axis.

The analysis has been worked out in the following matrix.

All topics that score 7 or higher (on a scale of 1 to 10) on both axes, together with the topics that we estimate one or more stakeholders will give a score of 10, have been included in this annual report. The scope of the reporting has been structured in line with the outcome of this analysis. The table below shows where in the report each topic is dealt with.

Topic

Social commitment

We make a positive contribution to society in carrying out our statutory duty as a gas infrastructure company. However, we wish to do more for society, and we are doing so in various ways, such as described in the examples below.

Cooperation in the field of archaeology

Sometimes, our activities take place in areas where archaeological findings have been made or are expected to be made. In such cases, we cooperate with archaeological consultancy RAAP to first search the area for the presence of any archaeological remains.

Sponsoring and donations

We sponsor activities and events and make donations in regions where we are directly active, particularly to support cultural events and youth sports activities. We also organise lectures on CSR and other subjects at secondary schools and universities. We frequently give free access to our head office and our catering facilities to student associations and other relevant organisations. We also sponsor student events by providing free use of equipment and furniture for holding conferences. In 2014, we spent € 315,264 on sponsoring and gave € 29,065 in donations.
In Germany, we sponsored the ʻSportivationstagʼ, a sporting event for disabled children. We will sponsor this event again in 2015. In addition, we donate materials that have been written off (but are still in a very good condition) to community associations.

Many of our employees who go to work by bike take part in the Dutch national campaign ‘Fietsen Scoort’.

Employee initiatives

Gasunie greatly values and supports employees’ social activities. Many of our employees do volunteer work for sports clubs, support cultural projects, participate in local politics, or are dedicated to the application of sustainable energy and improving the quality of life in their community. Our company sometimes contributes to their activities through sponsorship.
Many of our employees who go to work by bike take part in the Dutch national campaign ‘Fietsen Scoort’. The proceeds of this campaign are used to finance sustainable projects in developing countries. We double the amount that our employees collect for this good cause. In 2014, we donated solar panels to a primary school in the Dominican Republic (the Bella Vista school in Sosúa), in the same region where the Fietsen Scoort foundation had earlier helped a school with the purchase of solar panels. Thanks to these solar panels, the school where they are placed can stay open for longer, and more children (and adults) can receive education.

Sustainability Week

In 2014, in the context of the Sustainability Day of Urgenda, we organised a Sustainability Week in the Netherlands. The aim was to make our employees aware of the variety of sustainability activities that we are involved in, and also to demonstrate how they can make their own contribution to responsibly dealing with the environment. The programme included a lecture on climate change, a demonstration of power-to-gas technology, a ‘battle’ on the theme of sustainable employability, and a special offer for organic products in our staff restaurants. The donation of solar panels to a primary school in the Dominican Republic was also part of this.

Educational package for safety

Whenever we conduct major infrastructure projects, such as laying a pipeline or building an installation, it inevitably involves a great deal of heavy traffic. Our drivers have therefore been trained to focus on safety. To raise awareness about safety among local children, we have also compiled an educational package that we distribute to primary schools in the vicinity of our activities. In addition, we participated in an episode of a Dutch children’s TV programme, in which we explained why we transport gas and how this can be done safely. Most of the materials are freely available on our website.

To raise awareness about safety among local children, we have compiled an educational package.

Art

We believe that art in our office environment can help to create a pleasant workplace for our employees. Gasunie has a modest art collection that is displayed throughout our offices in the Netherlands and Germany. Each year, we organise several exhibitions at our head office. This provides a good platform for the (usually young) artists. In 2014, we spent € 32,210 on art.

Bees project with Wageningen University Research

In cooperation with Wageningen University Research (WUR), we are studying the habitat of wild bees. Wild bees are very important to the agricultural sector, but the mortality rate of bee populations in the Netherlands is increasing. This is partly due to the fact that their habitat is continuously shrinking. We therefore joined forces with WUR to examine whether, with some adjustments, industrial areas can be turned into suitable habitats for this type of bee. We gladly participate in this research, because we feel involved in the agricultural sector in the Netherlands. Many of our pipelines are, of course, located under agricultural land. One of our locations and various pipeline routes have been converted into habitats; for instance, by sowing flower seed mixes and creating nesting opportunities. Some Gasunie employees have been trained by an environmental scientist to collect data, which are then processed by WUR. The project was launched in 2012, and data was collected until 2014. The results will be made public in the first quarter of 2015.

Bee hotels for employees

Employees at Gasunie Deutschland also wanted to do something to help the bees. The people at a sheltered workplace near Hannover made bee hotels in the shape of Gasunie marker poles. Gasunie employees were able to buy these and take them home to make their own gardens more bee-friendly. Gasunie paid fifty percent of the purchase price. Many colleagues purchased one of these bee hotels.