The Challenge:

  • Creating and maintaining a skilled workforce and supply chain from scratch: constructing the first natural gas network in Northern Ireland, we also had to construct the hiring, retention and development solutions where none-existed alongside encouraging supply chain development
  • Maximising social impact: working extensively in communities throughout PNG’s licence area, presenting natural gas as a lifestyle product and, we give back to the communities we serve
  • Working within regulatory allowances: though building a new network and connecting customers with funding from private investment, regulatory allowances – set via price control – had to be met, with outputs maximised within the constraints presented by those budgets
  • Innovating products and practices for the NI Natural Gas market: actively developing what’s optimal for the NI Natural Gas market and our client rather than simply importing practices and products from abroad, an active approach to value, productivity and sustainability has been taken throughout the Alliance

The Solution:

  • Workforce and Supply Chain: structured graduate development programmes, hiring and development of school-leavers and apprenticeships put in place. NI Natural Gas Supply Chain Alliance created to communicate forward needs and drive local investment and innovation


  • Maximising Social Impact: Bridge-to-Employment (new careers for long-term unemployed), local hiring, schools programmes and charity events


  • Working within regulatory allowances: Co-location with client for works-planning; OpEx and CapEx drivers of innovation and supply chain programmes


  • Innovating products and practices for the NI Natural Gas market: introducing ‘no dig’ techniques, more than 70% of PNG’s network has been installed using modern methods such as directional drilling which is far more environmentally friendly and productive than open cut. Engineering innovations for PNG, realised through our Supply Chain Alliance, include: a 4 bar PE system designed from scratch; below ground district pressure reduction stations (governors) and preassembled and pretested customer meter boxes

The Impact:

  • More than 3,500km of IP, MP and LP mains and service laid, bringing natural gas to more than 200,000 customers alleviating fuel poverty and supporting modern lifestyles
  • Hundreds of gas professionals created locally in NI, including more than 70 previously unemployed individuals trained through the Bridge to Employment programme with 15 graduates under development at any time
  • Co-located main office to enhance collaboration (BS11000-certified) with 36 personnel embedded with our client to expedite value and customer-focused decision making
  • Safety: award-winning (Utility Week Utility Stars 2016) safety practices include behaviours-based stand-down days and visual method statements
  • Sustainability: implemented NI’s first PE-recycling centre
  • Modern methods of construction: more than 70% of the network constructed using ‘no-dig’ techniques, reducing material use, streetworks disruption to prospective customers and carbon emissions
  • OpEx/CapEx-focused innovation: performance-based specifications and supply chain challenges have helped to reduce materials costs by as much as 30% whilst supporting enhanced productivity

Phoenix Natural Gas Licence Extension for East Down:

As part of Phoenix Natural Gas’ (PNG) continued investment to make the benefits of natural gas available to a further 28,000 properties  in Northern Ireland, they applied to extend their licence area in to East Down.  The East Down Licence was granted by the NI Utility regulator in 2015, and Kier commenced construction works in April 2016.

Kier worked proactively and collaboratively with PNG to liaise with Stakeholders, plan, build, test and commission 100Km of large diameter gas mains to feed each of the 13 towns within the East Down licence Area.  This part of the project was completed by the end of 2018, some 6 months ahead of schedule.

A further 250Km of small diameter gas mains are being constructed within the 13 towns, and should be completed by mid-2022, 1 year ahead of programme.

The continued extension of the Natural Gas network delivers significant environmental, financial and lifestyle benefits for individual households and the wider community.

Watch a video of this construction:

" Although people see us as a large company, we are not a big company. We have less than 200 employees. We work particularly well with our main contractor [Kier] – which is a solid partnership. Their vehicles have our logo on them and we are very much part of the same team. "
Ivan Bell PNG Operations Director speaking to agendaNi, Northern Ireland's leading business and public policy magazine

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