14,617km of pipelines transport natural gas to hospitals, schools, homes and businesses 24 hours/day, 365 days/year in Ireland. This network of pipelines is hidden, underground and located in cities, towns and even fields across the country.
Natural gas is highly flammable so damaging a gas pipeline can cause major disruption, property damage, serious injury or even death.
Gas Networks Ireland operates and maintains Ireland’s national gas pipeline network which operates at pressures from 20mbar up to 85bar. It includes over 2,000km of large high-pressure transmission steel pipelines, which transport gas across the country at pressures up to 85bar through mainly rural areas.
The network also includes over 11,000km of the smaller distribution pipelines which operate at pressures up to 4bar and are normally made from yellow polyethylene.
Ireland’s gas network is one of the safest and most modern gas networks in the world. However, in 2021, around 400 incidents of actual damage to distribution gas pipes in towns and cities were recorded, as well as over 40 incidents of unauthorised excavation close to high pressure cross-country transmission pipelines.
A major risk to the network and to the safety of agricultural workers and the general public is the risk of damage caused by excavation works near the pipelines.
Some agricultural activities such as land drainage, can pose a major risk to both the gas network and to people’s safety if a pipeline is damaged.
Before starting excavation works, you should always ‘Dial before you dig‘ and contact Gas Networks Ireland in plenty of time before work starts to obtain maps of the gas network.
If there is a high-pressure transmission pipeline near where you plan to work, you must contact Gas Networks Ireland so its team can advise on safety requirements.
If necessary, Gas Networks Ireland will mark out the location of the pipeline and for certain locations provide an inspector to oversee the work. This service is free and is designed to ensure your safety and that of those around you.
Gas Networks Ireland has prepared a simple guide, ‘Safety Advice for Working in the Vicinity of Natural Gas Pipes’, which contains information on the risks associated with excavating near natural gas pipelines, the correct steps to take to stay safe and other useful information whenever you are excavating near gas pipelines.
For this guide, network maps, and to find out more information including specific advice for farmers and landowners, click here.