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Texas Gas, Sabine Top Customer Satisfaction Rankings

Texas Gas Transmission and Sabine Pipe Line topped Mastio & Co.'s 2005 Mega and Major Pipeline Customer Satisfaction Indexes, respectively, while Kinder Morgan Interstate Gas Transmission ended up on the lower end of those rankings, which were based on surveys of pipeline customers last year.

The new customer satisfaction study, Mastio's ninth on the gas pipeline companies, provides results on 39 interstate, seven intrastate and seven Canadian pipelines. It is based on interviews with 1,053 individuals from industrial companies, local distribution companies, independent power producers, gas producers and marketing firms.

Each respondent rated pipelines on 23 customer satisfaction attributes, such as timely resolution of problems, expertise of personnel, ease of contacting the right person for help, reliability of firm gas transportation and overall company performance on all nonprice factors. The study also asked several open-ended questions. For example, all respondents were asked, "Besides price, what is the most important factor [why] you select one transportation provider over another?" Respondents also were asked, "What was the biggest disappointment you have experienced with each of your pipelines over the last 12 months?"

The pipeline companies were segmented into six different indexes: mega, major, regional, interstate, intrastate and Canadian. Texas Gas Transmission placed first in both the mega pipeline index and the major pipeline index. Sabine Pipe Line placed first in both the regional pipeline index and the interstate pipeline index.

The companies experiencing the greatest increase in score from the previous edition were Sabine Pipe Line, Northern Natural Gas Co. and CenterPoint Energy Gas Transmission.

In the interstate pipeline group as a whole, Sabine, Great Lakes Gas Transmission and CenterPoint Energy-MRT were the top three in that order, while Florida Gas Transmission, Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline and Kinder Morgan Interstate Gas Transmission ended the list with Kinder Morgan in the last spot.

The top three pipelines in the Regional ranking were Sabine, Oneok Gas Transportation and Great Lakes Gas Transmission. The bottom two were GulfTerra Texas Pipeline and Westcoast (Duke Energy's BC System).

The customer satisfaction indexes weight the price of service equally with other customer satisfaction attributes, but Mastio also released several regional customer value indexes that give price a 70% weighting among all attributes. Price typically is the most important factor in a customer's decision, so this way of looking at customer satisfaction may actually have more meaning for some observers, said Mastio spokesman Kevin Huntsman.

"In real life that's probably the better way to look at it," he said. "Basically what this is saying is okay, price is more important and [pipelines] that have a better price are going to be better on the value index, but they also have to do well in [providing service]."

Looking at the Northeast, Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line had the highest customer value index, followed by Tennessee Gas, while Dominion, Texas Eastern and Columbia Gas Transmission had below-average value indexes.

In the Midwest, Natural Gas Pipeline Co. of America came out on top, followed by Panhandle Eastern and ANR Pipeline. Southern Star Central and Northern Natural had below average scores. And in the West, Northwest Pipeline, Transwestern and TransCanada GTN (the former Pacific Gas Transmission) were the tope three, while El Paso Natural Gas and Kern River had below average index scores.

For more on Mastio & Co., go to http://www.mastio.com/.

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