The Natural Alternative
Writer: Matthew Staff
Project Manager: Eddie Clinton
Egoli Gas has monitored, adapted to and led the way across the energy and gas sector over the past decade, becoming a significant player in South Africa’s natural gas evolution.
As one of the most prominent needs emanating their way into all sectors of society, the Companies behind industry progression can easily go unnoticed in the background, but Egoli’s willingness to move with the times, and to find optimum, contemporary solutions has led the Company to its current positioning as being the sole natural gas reticulation business in Gauteng; providing uninterrupted supply of energy to place it among the most reliable suppliers in the sector.
Moving away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy in the mid-2000s, the subsequent success that the business has achieved has derived largely from strategic partnerships and has had a profound influence across numerous sectors; including industrial, power generation, domestic households, central water heating, commercial restaurants, multi-dwellings and even hospitals.
While its overall footprint is restricted by its licence within the Greater
Johannesburg Metropolitan Area, Egoli Gas’ subsequent reputation in that region has become all the more prevalent, servicing more than 7,500 consumers across its aforementioned customer base in the process.
“Our commitment to an energy efficient, low carbon lifestyle ensures an uninterrupted flow of natural gas ready to use when it’s needed, safely,” the Company’s Managing Director (MD), Shepherd Shonhiwa states. “The product is environmentally-friendly, safe, reliable and energy efficient natural gas.”
Via its 1,200 kilometre pipeline network, Egoli Gas’ saturation within Johannesburg is filtered from an initial acquisition of natural gas from Sasol before strategic storage and controlling of the product occurs prior to its reticulation across the city.
“We at Egoli Gas partner with our clients to find energy saving solutions that meet the requirements of any home or business,” the Company says. “Our natural gas is a convenient, easily tapped and cost-effective energy source and is used in a wide range of applications by domestic, hospitality, central water heating and industrial consumers.”
With business operations dating back as far as 1892 - when an initial 30 metre gas pipeline was first installed in the city - the Company’s evolution in the decades that have followed have mirrored a general industry evolution, adopting some of the most pressing trends affecting society and global energy usage.
Culminating in 1999 when the Egoli Gas consortium was formed - known as Metro Gas - a further development 10 years’ later saw the Company progressing from being a City Council utility department to a private sector business and underwent a major corporate rebranding.
Later, “during 2004 and 2005, the entire pipeline network, as well as approximately 35,000 individual gas-fired pieces of equipment, were successfully converted from hydrogen-rich coal-based gas to methane-rich, natural gas due to the changed specification of gas by the supplier”, Shonhiwa recalls.
“Benefits [from the rebranding] included changing from supply of hydrogen-rich gas to natural gas, diversifying our customer base, and developing a cadre of skilled management with sharp focus on customer service, business efficiency and safety of operations.”
Projects undertaken since that moment, and especially from 2005 onwards, have revolved around honing and optimising this change in methodology, as well as rationalising the network to discard old non-users and in streamlining a new user base.
Key contracts were subsequently attained in power generation, public hospital boilers and the commercial space, earmarking Egoli Gas as a provider built on integrity and, most importantly, safety.
“Natural gas safety is always our highest priority,” the Company emphasises. “At Egoli Gas, strict natural gas safety standards in accordance to national and international standards are adhered to.
“We conduct scheduled leak detection surveys of our complete pipeline network beyond the minimum requirements and strive to implement best practice wherever possible. Regular risk assessments and audits are conducted to ensure constant compliance to standards and legislation.”
To facilitate such a rapidly changing and developing sector, Egoli Gas’ internal structure - under the guidance of 100 percent owner, Reatile Group - is continuously upgraded and improved through a series of capital expenditures; recently comprising the introduction of a Scada system to aid in gas flow monitoring as well as the pressure and integrity of a pipeline network from one central point.
A new pipeline construction has also been implemented in western Johannesburg, while the Company has additionally divided its entire network into 43 supply sectors in order to improve safety standards once more, and to localise pipeline management.
As a 100 percent wholly-owned black Company, the business’ employment profile is equally meticulous in terms of its make-up, reflecting the demographic of the society in which it operates.
“Egoli Gas has a healthy spread of skilled and semi-skilled staff across the board and significant investment is put into skills training and development of its staff,” Shonhiwa emphasises.
The same local commitment is also displayed across the Company’s supply chain, the MD adds: “Egoli Gas is a one-product business from one predominant supplier, while efficiencies are improved by entering into business partnerships, both horizontally and vertically, within the gas value chain where necessary.”
All of these facets fit into Egoli Gas’ ultimate array of goals and values which incorporate fairness, honesty, transparency, care and respect - across both its employees and its ever-expanding customer base - standing the business in great stead for the next exciting phase of its sector-driven development.
“Our vision is to be a dynamic, world-class natural gas reticulation Company, expanding rapidly into the Johannesburg area and providing exciting opportunities for all stakeholders,” the Company states.
The MD adds: “In three - five years, Egoli Gas will have doubled the size of this business and will be reticulating gas in other, neighbouring metropolitan areas.”