NEGA and GTI join forces on operator qualification

NEEDHAM, Mass., Oct. 31, 2001 — The New England Gas Association (NEGA) and Gas Technology Institute (GTI) have announced a collaborative effort to develop a training program for natural gas industry personnel subject to the requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Operator Qualification (OQ) regulation. Under the terms of the agreement, GTI will develop an OQ training program that natural gas utilities can use in conjunction with NEGA’s Operator Qualification Program to meet the employee testing and qualification requirements of this regulation. The joint agreement was signed on September 25, 2001.

DOT’s Operator Qualification regulation requires natural gas utilities to develop and maintain a written qualification program for employees and contractors who help construct and maintain company distribution systems by performing a variety of duties known as “covered tasks”. The intent of this qualification rule is to ensure a qualified work force and to reduce the probability and consequence of incidents caused by human error.

Working with its member companies and industry regulators, NEGA has developed an OQ Program that consists of seventy covered tasks. This qualification program is currently being used to qualify approximately 4,000 New England natural gas industry personnel. In addition, numerous natural gas utilities from outside the region have purchased the rights to use the Program.

The NEGA OQ Program, while addressing the requirements of DOT’s regulation, does not address training/re-training for new or existing employees on the seventy covered tasks. The NEGA-GTI partnership will address this need, by developing a comprehensive OQ training curriculum.

Using NEGA’s OQ Compliance Program as the foundation, GTI, which is known for its educational and technical expertise within the natural gas industry, will develop an OQ Training Program. The NEGA Operator Qualification Task Force, comprised of senior operations personnel from New England’s natural gas utility companies, will work with GTI to oversee the development of the program. The partnership will allow both NEGA and GTI to administer the OQ training and qualification program nationally.

John Riordan, president and CEO of GTI, said: “GTI is pleased to enter into this partnership with NEGA. The OQ regulation will significantly affect the training needs of the natural gas industry. These combined efforts of GTI and NEGA will provide the solution for distribution companies and contractors across the country.” Said NEGA President Thomas Kiley: “This partnership is an exciting opportunity for all parties, and a great tribute to the innovative work of NEGA’s Operator Qualification Task Force. NEGA is pleased that its program will be a platform for OQ training and testing throughout the nation. NEGA congratulates its OQ Task Force members and its member utilities for this recognition.”

For additional information, please contact Jose Costa, NEGA Vice President—Operations or Paul Armstrong, GTI/NEGA Regional Manager—Customer Relations at (781) 455-6800.

NEGA, based in Needham, Massachusetts, was established in 1926. Its membership includes New England’s local natural gas utilities, the interstate pipeline companies serving the region, an LNG importer, and over 260 associate member companies. The natural gas utilities serve over 2.2 million customers in 490 communities in the six New England states.

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