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MRT, Columbia Rank High In Customer Survey

MRT, Columbia Rank High In Customer Survey

Mississippi River Transmission (MRT) and Columbia Gas System Inc. got very high marks for being responsive to their customers, according to the results of the latest pipeline customer-satisfaction study released last week by Mastio & Co.

MRT of St. Louis, MO, was ranked No. 1 among the 50 interstate pipelines that were surveyed, and it also was at the top of the list for long-haul pipelines. The latter group included 35 pipelines that have at least 1,000 miles of transportation pipe and serve three or more states.

Columbia Gas System was rated the most customer responsive of the 12 major pipeline groups in North America, according to the Mastio study. It beat out both Williams and Enron. One of its pipeline subsidiaries, Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. of Charleston, WVA, also took the No. 1 spot in the mega-pipeline category. These pipelines, 18 in all, have at least 1,000 miles of pipe and minimum deliveries of 1 billion Mcf/year.

The rankings were based on more than 1,250 interviews with industrials, LDCs, producers, power plants and marketers. Each rated their pipelines on 40 customer-satisfaction attributes, including quality of relationships with the pipelines, representatives who listen well, price competitiveness, responsive sales and service personnel, quality of electronic bulletin boards, plus overall preference, service and performance.

In the survey of the 50 interstates, other pipelines sharing top spots with MRT included Sabine Pipe Line, South Georgia Natural Gas, Columbia Gas Transmission and Northern Border Pipeline. Bringing up the rear were National Fuel Gas Supply, Equitrans Inc., KN Interstate Gas Transmission (since re-named Kinder Morgan Gas Transmission), Iroquois Gas Transmission System and Midwestern Gas Transmission. El Paso Natural Gas, whose parent company is on its way to becoming the biggest pipeline ever, was ranked 36.

Interstate pipelines showing "dramatic improvement" since the last survey two years ago --- with gains ranging from a couple of percentage points to as much as 64% --- were Tennessee Gas Pipeline (ranked 23), Northern Border (5), Reliant Energy Gas Transmission (32), ANR Pipeline (28), Koch Gateway Pipeline (44), Northern Natural Gas (20), Southern Natural Gas (16), East Tennessee Natural Gas (9), Williston Basin Pipeline (12), Wiilliams Gas Pipeline-Central (22), Williams Gas Pipeline-Northwest (28), Questar Pipeline (30), CNG Transmission (24) and Natural Gas Pipeline Co. of America (15), said Richard Mastio, president of the St. Joseph, MO-based company.

The interstates experiencing a "significant decline," he noted, were Algonquin Gas Transmission (ranked 40), Iroquois Gas Transmission System (47), Great Lakes Gas Transmission (29), Williams Gas Pipeline-Kern River (8), Trunkline Gas Transmission (25), Williams Gas Pipeline-Texas Gas (14) and National Fuel Gas Supply (50).

Among the most customer-responsive executives in the gas pipeline industry, according to Mastio, are Stephen C. Beasley, president of Tennessee Gas; Catherine G. Abbott, CEO of Columbia Gulf Transmission; Oliver "Rick" Richard III, chairman of Columbia Gas System Inc.; Michael McGowan, vice president of marketing for Enron Transportation and Storage; and Deborah Plattsmier of Sabine Pipe Line.

Susan Parker

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