Customers Rank Ozark Gas As #1 North American Pipe

According to those who matter most --- the customers --- the top interstate pipeline in North America is Ozark Gas Transmission and the number one Canadian pipeline is Nova Gas Transmission, say the results of the fifth annual Mastio Natural Gas Pipeline Customer Satisfaction Study released last week. The study covered 48 interstate, 14 intrastate and 10 Canadian pipelines, with 90% of the North American transporters represented.

Based on interviews with industrials, local distribution companies, electric generators, independent power producers, producers and marketers, the survey had respondents rate transportation providers on 46 customer satisfaction attributes. The list included the quality of the relationship with the pipeline; attitude of continuous improvement; integrity of pipeline personnel; innovation; personnel response; and overall preference, day-to-day service and performance.

Among interstate pipelines, National Fuel Gas Supply showed the greatest improvement, while the most improved pipe north of the border was Calgary-based Westcoast Energy. The top intrastate pipeline making the list was Enogex Inc.

Southern Natural Gas Co. earned the top ranking on the mega pipeline list, which consists of pipelines with at least 1,000 miles of transportation pipes and deliveries of at least 1 billion Mcf/year. Columbia Gas Transmission Corp., which led the mega pipeline list last year, fell to the seventh spot in this year's survey (see NGI, March 6, 2000).

The other 18 mega pipelines in order were Williams Gas Pipeline-Texas Gas, CMS Trunkline Gas Co., Great Lakes Gas Transmission Inc., Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., Williams Gas Pipeline-Transco, and Columbia Gas.

Others following in order were Dominion Transmission Inc., CMS Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line, Texas Eastern Transmission Corp., Colorado Interstate Gas Co., Reliant Energy Gas Transmission, ANR Pipeline Co., Natural Gas Pipeline Co. of America, Gulf South Pipeline Co., Williams Gas Pipeline-Northwest, Northern Natural Gas Co. and El Paso Natural Gas Co.

"Many transportation providers focus on their biggest customers while ignoring their smaller customers," said Bart Thedinger, vice president of St. Louis, MO-based Mastio & Co., which conducted the survey. "If you feel you are being ignored, you are probably right."

He said pipeline companies that "walk the talk" cultivate a culture of customer satisfaction within the company, "they care and you know it, they realize higher customer retention rates, win more new customers and increase profits," Thedinger said. "Those who don't will lose the opportunity and ultimately their customers. If your company did not move up from the last study, you are likely standing still."

With the many choices and available pipelines today, Thedinger said that pipeline companies have to listen and understand their customers' needs "no matter how minor or small they might appear." This year's results found that the top three customer needs were accurate scheduled gas volumes; reliable firm gas transportation; and dependable agreements and commitments.

For more information on the study, contact Mastio at (816) 364-6200 or send an email to info@mastio.com.

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