At OVO, we provide the gas used in our customers’ homes, but we don’t own the networks of pipelines needed to carry the gas to each individual property.
Gas arrives in the UK from offshore fields in the North Sea and Irish Sea, or by pipeline from Ireland, Belgium and Holland. A small amount is produced in mainland UK.
The gas is collected in reception terminals, where it’s checked for quality and then injected into the national transmission system. Compressor stations keep it flowing freely. When it leaves the transmission system, it’s ready to be delivered to customers, usually by one of the eight UK Gas Distribution Networks (GDNs).
However, there are many areas that the GDNs don’t reach. They may be places where homes were originally designed to be heated by a different fuel, or rural neighbourhoods that have never been on the national gas main.
In those places, gas may be delivered by an Independent Gas Transporter (IGT). IGTs extend the national gas network to around 1 million homes that otherwise wouldn’t be able to access the UK’s favourite source of home energy.
As well as operating these individual local networks, IGTs work in partnership with developers to create the gas pipe infrastructure in new estates and lay gas pipelines to the properties. Once the estate is built and occupied, the IGT will be responsible for transporting the gas to all the homes, even though it might be supplied by a different energy company at each address. The IGT will also be responsible for maintaining the pipes.
If you want to know if your home is served by an IGT, just check the beginning of your gas meter number. If it starts with 74, 75, 76 or 77, your gas is delivered by an IGT. If it starts with any other number, you’re on the National Grid or with one of the other Gas Distribution Networks.
You may also see the letters IGT on your gas or dual fuel bill.
The gas delivered by an Independent Gas Transporter is just the same type and quality as gas delivered by the main Gas Distribution Networks, but it may cost a little more. IGTs deliver to fewer customers, so they can’t afford to cut prices in the way the big GDNs can.
Ofgem uses a ‘Relative Price Control’ to regulate the amounts that IGTs can charge when they start supplying a new site. This ensures that their prices are capped at a level that broadly matches the amount charged by the GDNs.