Our results

Our results

Management agenda 2016

Management agenda 2016–2018

 (strategic and operational)

Strategic pillar Optimal infrastructure
Strategic pillar Connecting Europe
Strategic pillar Energy in transition
Continuing and intensifying the dialogue with the regulatory authority to ensure optimum alignment of our company with the regulatory framework
  • Optimal infrastructure
  • Connecting Europe
  • Energy in transition
Safeguarding the continuous supply of gas via our gas transport network, now and in the future; for example, by making an investment decision with regard to an additional nitrogen plant in the Netherlands
  • Optimal infrastructure
  • Connecting Europe
  • Energy in transition
Achieving the highest safety standards through the successful implementation of our Safe@Gasunie programme
  • Optimal infrastructure
  • Connecting Europe
  • Energy in transition
Implementing a sustainable HRM and employment conditions policy
  • Optimal infrastructure
  • Connecting Europe
  • Energy in transition
Successfully implementing cross-border projects and activities, such as increasing market integration, expanding our LNG activities and considering opportunities for collaboration with other TSOs
  • Optimal infrastructure
  • Connecting Europe
  • Energy in transition
Participating in new sustainable energy markets and developing energy infrastructure and energy projects to enable the energy transition, such as green gas, Carbon Capture Transport and Storage (CCTS), etc.
  • Optimal infrastructure
  • Connecting Europe
  • Energy in transition
Improving governance, efficiency and effectiveness by setting up and implementing our company-wide Operational Excellence programme
  • Optimal infrastructure
  • Connecting Europe
  • Energy in transition
Achieving our Corporate Social Responsibility objectives, including objectives in the field of energy transition and CO2 footprint reduction
  • Optimal infrastructure
  • Connecting Europe
  • Energy in transition
Actively promoting our strategy by developing a new ‘corporate storyline’ in dialogue with the relevant stakeholders
  • Optimal infrastructure
  • Connecting Europe
  • Energy in transition
Maintaining our solid financial position, which is characterised by maintaining a minimum credit rating of A3
  • Optimal infrastructure
  • Connecting Europe
  • Energy in transition
Strengthening our position as a European gas infrastructure company by further developing our activities in Europe
  • Optimal infrastructure
  • Connecting Europe
  • Energy in transition
Effectively and efficiently implementing our investment programme for maintenance and replacement
  • Optimal infrastructure
  • Connecting Europe
  • Energy in transition
Achieving our objectives in the field of IT security (including improving efficiency)
  • Optimal infrastructure
  • Connecting Europe
  • Energy in transition
Realised Partly realised Not realised

Results network operations in the Netherlands and Germany

We serve the public interest, and by providing safe and reliable gas transport, we contribute to the energy supply in the Netherlands and Germany, and a large part of Northwestern Europe.
Network operators GTS and Gasunie Deutschland offer their gas transport services in a customer-oriented and transparent way. Our gas transport and infrastructure activities are at the heart of our strategy. We carry out these activities as efficiently as possible and ensure the proper functioning and development of the gas transport network. We do this by safeguarding the security of supply and by providing appropriate services to our customers – with a focus on safety, reliability, sustainability and cost awareness.

Gas transport results

Security of supply
The reliability of gas transport has a high priority within our company. In 2016, we achieved almost 100% security of supply. There were two interruptions in our Dutch network, with two distribution network operators receiving no gas for a short time. We investigated the causes of these transport interruptions. There were no interruptions in our German network.

Transported gas in the Netherlands and Germany
In 2016, the total volume of gas transported through our network rose to 1,236 TWh (2015: 1,170 TWh). In the Netherlands, more natural gas was transported than in the previous year. In 2016, our customers had 971 TWh (99.4 billion m3) of gas transported through our network for end-users in the Netherlands and abroad, compared to 926 TWh (94.8 billion m3) in 2015. This increase was caused by an increase in the volume of exported H-gas and G-gas.

In Germany, the total transported volume in 2016 was 265 TWh (2015: 244 TWh). The Nord Stream entry point in Greifswald largely operated at maximum capacity. Compared to last year, relatively little North Sea gas was transported. The capacity bookings at the Emden and Oude Statenzijl border points were significantly lower than expected. During the summer months, the gas storages in the market area of Gasunie Deutschland were filled to a very high level, resulting in full gas storages at the start of the winter of 2016/17.

Transported gas volume (in TWh)

In December 2016, Gasunie Deutschland and Open Grid Europe GmbH (OGE) jointly acquired the German network operator jordgasTransport GmbH (JGT) from Statoil. JGT offers transport services via the NETRA pipeline connection, a joint venture of JGT, Gasunie Deutschland and OGE. The additional capacity perfectly supplements Gasunie Deutschland’s existing portfolio. It also strengthens our German network for the transport of H-gas. As a result, Gasunie is even better equipped to facilitate future gas flows from various international sources. In addition, the deployment of this pipeline connection contributes to the security of supply in Northwestern Europe, where we currently see a significant decline in the local production of L-gas.

The trend that shippers in Germany particularly tend to make short-term capacity bookings at border points continued in 2016. Neither the multipliers re-introduced for short-term bookings (to promote longer-term bookings), nor the significantly lower discount for interruptible capacity have led to any noticeable change in shippers’ booking behaviour.

BNetzA had initially announced a change in the method of tariff calculation, which would come into effect on 1 January 2017. This method is likely to improve the booking situation at the border points of Gasunie Deutschland, as it will lead to a uniform entry-tariff for the entire market area. However, the German regulator has reconsidered the time schedule, and the new regulations are now highly likely to come into effect on 1 January 2018.

Gasunie projects in Germany

The last of the Integrated Open Seasons projects have entered the final phase of their construction. The new compressor station in Quarnstedt has been successfully completed and commissioned. Combined with, among other things, the new pipeline between Fockbek and Ellund, the transport capacity to Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein has been expanded significantly. The Elbe culvert has also been completed, and at the Wardenburg compressor station, two new compressors have been put into operation.

Further increase of quality conversion

To mitigate the consequences of the reduced gas production from the Groningen field, the use of our quality conversion capacity further increased in 2016. Quality conversion means that we add nitrogen to H-gas from abroad to make it suitable for use by Dutch domestic households. The volume of converted gas rose from 16.9 billion m3 in 2015 to 23.4 billion m3 in 2016.

Gasunie intended to expand the nitrogen installation near Zuidbroek in Groningen, but due to changing market conditions, including a faster decline in the market demand for L-gas abroad, this expansion is no longer necessary from a capacity point of view. Before the Dutch government takes a final decision with regard to the expansion, it wishes to investigate whether, from a safety point of view, the additional deployment of quality conversion will be necessary given the intended extraction level of 24 billion m3 per year. In September 2016, the government therefore postponed its final investment decision about the intended expansion.

Market conversion

Due to the steadily declining German and Dutch production of L-gas, Gasunie Deutschland is facilitating the market conversion from L-gas to H-gas. The first projects (the conversion of Schneverdingen and Böhmetal) have now been completed successfully. The next conversion projects have already been announced, and the relevant agreements with the adjacent network operators have been entered into, in line with the ambitious German network development plan (NEP). As of 1 January 2018, the levy to cover the costs of market conversion will be charged consistently and at a national level.

Optimising the replacement programme

The multi-year replacement programme for valves, metering and regulating stations and gas receiving stations was continued in 2016. The expected duration of the programme is 15 to 20 years. In parallel with the renovation, the state of the replaced installations was also examined. Based on this analysis, the programme was adjusted, and it was decided not to scale it up any further, but to reduce the number of stations to be replaced. The emphasis now lies on corrective rather than preventive maintenance. A number of stations will be replaced completely. If, from a risk perspective, replacement is not necessary, we will take a reactive approach.
The guiding principles with regard to valve replacements in the HTL network have also been adjusted. Again, risk-based analyses have led us to conclude that fewer valves than anticipated will need to be replaced.
These adjustments to our multi-year replacement programme mean that we will be able to significantly lower our investment expenses in the coming years.

A new operating system for our gas transport network

To safeguard a reliable and safe gas supply, the Jason programme will be replacing the current gas transport IT system, Argos-Gus. These systems are used to operate the Dutch gas transport network. The Jason project makes gas transport more intuitive, thanks to innovative IT solutions. By applying simulation technologies, we will be able to predict our activities as realistically as possible. This ‘smart’ system will support our operators in their decision-making. Because the design, construction, testing and progress monitoring are taking place at geographic locations that are far apart, good project management, communication and reporting are extremely important. So far, the work has been carried out on schedule, although the reallocation of design tasks has put some pressure on the agreed delivery date. The expected delivery date, however, has not changed, which means the new software will be implemented in the first quarter of 2018.

Split of GTS

As of 1 January 2016, GTS was split into two separate companies: GTS for the national main transport system (HTL) and Gasunie Grid Services (GGS) as network operator for the regional high-pressure system (RTL). GTS is the dedicated network operator for both transport systems. As part of the agreement on the method decision, the assignment of GGS as network operator has been withdrawn, which leaves GTS as the only national network operator.

Customer satisfaction survey

Each year, GTS carries out a customer satisfaction survey. Shippers gave GTS a mark of 8.0 (2015: 7.8) and industrial customers gave GTS a mark of 7.7 (2015: 7.5). Customers indicate that they appreciate the professionalism, the speed of response, the nomination process and the customer focus of GTS. Nearly all shippers think that, when it comes to customer focus, transparency and accessibility, GTS is equally good or better than other TSOs. An important point for improvement revealed by the survey still concerned the user-friendliness of Gasport, our web portal for transport information. GTS therefore implemented several improvement measures in 2016 to make accessing Gasport more user-friendly.

Complaints procedure

In our activities, we try to take our surrounding communities into account as much as possible. We try to process complaints we receive as quickly as possible, and to the satisfaction of all parties involved. Customers of GTS can address their complaints to specialised customer desks. In 2016, we received and processed 3 complaints from shippers and 3 complaints from industrial connected parties.

At Gasunie Deutschland, following a complaint by a gas storage operator in Germany, BNetzA evaluated the tariff system of Gasunie Deutschland Transport Services GmbH. BNetzA rejected the complaint and confirmed the tariff system of Gasunie Deutschland. However, the storage operator appealed against this decision at the Oberlandesgericht (Court of Appeal) in Düsseldorf, which led to a court case between the storage operator and BNetzA. By mutual consent, the court case was suspended until further notice. A decision is not expected in the short term.

Market liquidity

Energy users benefit from strong international gas connections and a liquid gas market. This has a positive effect on the availability and affordability of gas. In 2016, the Netherlands was again one of the most attractive and liquid gas trading markets in Europe. Thanks to the gas roundabout, the country has a well-functioning gas market, with healthy competition, which leads to lower gas prices.

TTF grown into largest gas trading platform in Europe
Over the past few years, the Dutch virtual gas trading platform TTF (Title Transfer Facility) has grown into one of the most prominent liquid gas hubs in Europe. As Europe’s largest gas trading platform, TTF is attracting an increasing number of parties from the Netherlands and abroad, mainly for the purpose of hedging activities. As a result, in 2016, for the first time, more gas was traded on TTF than on the English National Balancing Point (NBP), in total 21,468 TWh (2015: 16,684 TWh). The physical volume flowing through the GTS network via TTF (the net TTF volume) was 516 TWh in 2016 (2015: 450 TWh). This means that, just as in previous years, the physical TTF volume is larger than the domestic gas consumption in the Netherlands. The highest number of active TTF traders on a single day further increased in 2016 to 143 (138 in 2015).

Compared to the other gas trading platforms in Europe, TTF clearly grew most in 2016. The bilateral Over-The-Counter (OTC) trade increased by 20%, from 13,706 TWh (2015) to 16,607 TWh. This meant that TTF was able to further strengthen its No. 1 position in the European OTC market. Approximately half of the European OTC trade is currently taking place on TTF. The TTF segment traded via gas exchanges rose from 2,978 TWh in 2015 to 4,861 TWh in 2016. This is an increase of more than 60% compared to 2015, and even a more than fourfold increase compared to 2014.

GASPOOL
In 2016, the volume traded on the virtual gas trading platform GASPOOL increased slightly compared to the same period in 2015, with a level of 1,505 TWh (2015: 1,500 TWh). The churn factor (the number of time that a quantity of gas is traded on average between its production and the consumption by the end-user) for L-gas was 2.2, with a maximum value of 2.7 in August. The churn factor for H-gas also increased slightly to 4.04, with a maximum of 4.9 in August.

Developments in the European gas market
Together with other network operators (TSOs), GTS and GUD align the decline in capacity across the individual border points. To stimulate the development of a competitive, secure and – increasingly –sustainable European gas market, and to enhance market liquidity, TSOs are working together. Examples of such collaborations are ENTSOG (European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas) and the PRISMA European capacity platform. Within ENTSOG, the TSOs are working on, among other things, the drawing up and implementation of European network codes, the ten-year network development plan and enhancing transparency.
By harmonising gas transport services, the thresholds for customers (particularly international customers) are kept as low as possible, enhancing cross-border gas trade. In 2016, GTS and Gasunie Deutschland continued their efforts to co-design new European network codes, in particular those for tariff structures and for additionally available (incremental) capacity.

Results Participations

The Participations business unit is responsible for optimally deploying the existing participations.

BBL: 10 years of gas transport to the United Kingdom

Over 48 TWh was transported via the Bacton-Balgzand pipeline (BBL) in 2016, a decrease compared to last year (2015: 72 TWh), partly due to the expiration of one of the large transport contracts on 1 December 2016. On the same day, it was BBL’s 10th anniversary. In those ten years, 724 TWh was transported via BBL from the Netherlands to the United Kingdom, safely and with very high pipeline availability.

Nord Stream: excellent operational performance

In 2016, Nord Stream transported a record volume of 477 TWh. This is 12% more than in 2015 (426 TWh).

EnergyStock: selling new gas storage services

In the course of 2016, EnergyStock made further progress in marketing its new package of services to enable customers to trade on the virtual trading platform TTF. As a result, the free capacity of EnergyStock was almost sold out, which shows there is clear market demand for the storage services offered by EnergyStock. In 2016, new customers started using EnergyStock. For these customers, besides fixed prices, use was made of price mechanisms, which enable EnergyStock to share in the value realised by the customers.

Thanks to its fast-cycle nature, EnergyStock is able to offer specific and distinctive opportunities. This gives EnergyStock an advantage compared to the competition. Nevertheless, in 2016, EnergyStock was again confronted with further price pressure. Over the past few years, the market for gas storage services has seen increasing competition, due to strong growth in the supply of capacity for seasonal storage. In addition, demand for EnergyStock’s trading services went down, particularly due to smaller fluctuations in gas prices.

Gate terminal

The LNG market is developing. Particularly the market for LNG transport via large tankers is very dynamic. As a result, the number of unloaded ships declined for the first time in 2016, to 15 (2015: 21). In addition, the number of large tankers loaded declined slightly to 12 (2015: 14), and the number of small-scale tankers loaded (up to 20,000 m3) declined from 14 in 2015 to 7 in 2016. On the other hand, the number of loaded trucks and containers in 2016 increased to 1,137, compared to 788 in 2015. These fluctuations hardly affect our revenues: our revenue for capacity sold is consistent, mainly thanks to long-term contracts.

The new LNG break-bulk infrastructure at Gate terminal, located on the Maasvlakte near Rotterdam, was completed as planned. The opening of the expansion took place on 24 November 2016, and three small-scale loading operations were performed in the same year. The LNG in these loads, together with the LNG loaded via trucks, is used as a clean and affordable fuel by the transport sector in the Netherlands and Northwestern Europe.

LNG as a transport fuel means an important step forward in the energy transition in shipping and freight transport by road. Gasunie has long been involved in driving on natural gas, and also fulfils a pioneering role in promoting green gas and bio-LNG. By supporting the documentary ‘Sea Blind’, Gasunie was very successful in putting the use of LNG in the ocean-shipping industry firmly on the agenda. In initiatives such as these, we appreciate our partnership with Gasunie.

Ewald Breunesse (Manager Energy Transitions, Shell Nederland B.V.)

Peakshaver – improving the installation

The Truck Unloading Facility built last year was taken into operation, as a result of which LNG can now be supplied rather than that it is made at the installation itself. The quality of the LNG has been improved, in conformity with the Ministerial Regulation on gas quality (MR Gaskwaliteit), by refreshing the content of one of the two storage tanks. To keep the installation in good condition, various investment projects have been carried out.
The Peakshaver is a source of G-gas. Partly because of the decline in the Groningen production, a new dynamic has arisen in the G-gas market, which had not been anticipated at the time when it was decided to make the Peakshaver part of Peakshaver B.V. Due to the recent changes in the G-gas market, the Peakshaver (because of its location and transport supporting function) has become indispensable to GTS. It was therefore decided to make the Peakshaver part of GTS as of 1 January 2017, as a result of which GTS has become directly responsible for the asset management and operational management.

Increased volume of certified green gas

As of 1 January 2015, Vertogas has acted on behalf of the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs as a certifier of renewable gas (green gas). It carries out its task on the basis of new legislation on energy, which includes the certification of renewable energy. The certificates issued by Vertogas guarantee the green origin of renewable gas from biomass.
The volume of green gas certified by Vertogas rose in 2016, from 71 million m3 in 2015 to almost 81 million m3 in 2016. This increase was mainly due to new production installations for green gas that were added to the register in 2016.

Results Energy Transition

Gasunie aims to contribute to a CO2-neutral energy supply by 2050. This includes a social role: we aim to use our knowledge of and experience with the energy infrastructure to enable and accelerate the energy transition. We see chances and opportunities to ensure a clean, affordable and reliable energy supply. Below we mention a number of initiatives that we participate in.

‘Groningen woont SLIM’ (‘SMART living in Groningen’)
During the National Climate Summit on 26 October 2016, together with the municipality of Groningen and Reimarkt, we presented the new CO2 reduction initiative of Duurzame Energiewinkel (Sustainable Energy Shop) ‘Groningen woont SLIM’ to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Deputy Minister Sharon Dijksma. The Sustainable Energy Shop was opened on 1 October 2016. Here, residents of Groningen can buy simple and quick energy-saving solutions on the basis of customised advice. As a partner of ‘Groningen woont SLIM’, we contribute to the solutions on offer with our hybrid heat pump. Hybrid heat pumps make it possible to reduce gas consumption in existing homes to such an extent that the volume of gas still needed can be supplied in the form of sustainable, renewable gas. This facilitates a fully CO2-neutral heat supply for those homes where all-electric solutions or heat grids are not (yet) economically feasible. This innovative approach in Groningen may play a major role in making private homes more sustainable – not just for the city of Groningen, but also at a regional and national level.

Groningen Acceleration Platform for hybrid heat pumps
The city of Groningen has the ambition to be energy-neutral by 2035. That is why, at the initiative of the municipality of Groningen, Gasunie, together with 20 other parties from Groningen, signed a letter of intent in which the parties agree to reduce their energy consumption and to contribute to the transition to a CO2-neutral region. These initiators now represent 33% of the city of Groningen’s energy consumption.

Following from the energy covenant ‘Groningen energy-neutral by 2035’, various Acceleration Platforms have been set up, where parties exchange knowledge and experiences, and help to accelerate energy projects. In October 2016, we joined the Groningen Acceleration Platform for hybrid heat pumps. With a large number of parties involved in this, it has been agreed that we will work on a joint business case for the large-scale roll-out of hybrid heat pumps in the city.

Gasunie is a great example of a company with a ‘long-term horizon’ when it comes to the energy transition. Today it may primarily focus on gas transport, in the future it could be a national heat company! In the near future, we all need to think carefully about how we can solve sustainability issues, and particularly the elusive ‘greenification’ of the built environment. I see Gasunie as a company that is increasingly prepared to take responsibility with regard to such issues, despite the fact that a lot of new knowledge and competencies still need to be developed. Gasunie is open-minded when it comes to collaborations and joint development with many different parties. This openness towards external parties and the willingness to learn as an organisation are essential characteristics, which will contribute to the success of Gasunie’s role in the energy transition.

Peter Wagener, Chairman of the Dutch Heat Pump Association (DHPA)

EN|square
In 2016, in a consortium with DNVGL, TNO, Alliander and GasTerra, we started the EN|square project. EN|Square aims to be a marketplace where parties exchange energy (wind, solar, gas, heat) and energy functions (energy storage, energy conversion and CO2 mitigation). There are no restrictions as to the energy carriers, which means that the energy trade comprises electricity, gas and heat. EN|square provides insight into which specific characteristics (solar, wind, biogas, storage) are used to actually produce the energy that is bought.

Hydrogen pipeline in Zeeland
Dow Benelux, Yara and ICL-IP, industrial companies in the Delta region in the province of Zeeland, are planning to exchange hydrogen for industrial application via the GTS network. This intention has been endorsed via a Green Deal signed by the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, Henk Kamp, together with the parties involved. This Green Deal aims to enable the transport of hydrogen in this area within the legal framework of our role as gas network operator. Meanwhile, we have mapped all necessary measures, and the project is being prepared.

“In the province of Zeeland, DOW Benelux B.V., Yara Sluiskil B.V. and ICL-IP Terneuzen aim to realise a premium application for hydrogen. This is one of the industrial symbioses projects of the Smart Delta Resources Platform in the region. Hydrogen is a byproduct of DOW’s production processes and is currently mainly used as fuel for existing processes. The purpose of hydrogen symbiosis is the premium application of hydrogen as input for the production process at Yara Sluiskil and ICL-Terneuzen. The ambition of the collaborating companies, governments and other parties has been laid down in the Green Deal “Hydrogen Symbiosis in the Delta Region”, on 14 March 2016. GTS is an important partner in this Green Deal. The realization of the symbiosis can potentially take place via an existing GTS gas pipeline that runs below the Canal at Terneuzen from Dow, past ICL-IP to Yara. We have experienced the collaboration with GTS as professional, expert and very involved. What could make this partnership even better, is more flexibility on GTS’ side towards creative solutions, and better anticipation for long term action planning”.  - Paul Broekaart - Dow Benelux, Rik Lambotte - Yara Sluiskil, Laurens Meijering - Impuls/Smart Delta Resources

 

Scaling up innovative, sustainable energy solutions

Renewable gases
Together with various partners, in 2016, we worked on running projects and new initiatives. These are aimed at innovations in the production of renewable gas. Renewable gases or sustainable gases are, among other things, green gases deriving from fermentation or gasification of biomass and sustainably produced hydrogen. These gases will fulfil an increasingly important role in sectors such as heat provision, transport and industrial processes. It is expected that, in 2030, two to three billion m3 of renewable gas will be able to be produced in the Netherlands, comparable to the current gas consumption of approximately two million households.

Among other things, we are working on the development of an innovative technology that is suitable for the gasification of torrefied (roasted) biomass. We do this in collaboration with Torrgas, AkzoNobel and A.Hak. Another gasification project concerns Ambigo, biomass gasification in Alkmaar. We carry this out together with ECN, Koninklijke Dahlman and Participatiefonds Duurzame Economie Noord-Holland (PDENH), with the aim of making efficient biomass gasification applicable at a large industrial scale.

In March 2016, an agreement was entered into with SCW Systems BV concerning a collaboration to extract biogas from wet biomass by means of Super Critical Water gasification. With this technology, wet biomass (waste flows) are converted into sustainable gas and reusable raw materials. The system simulates the natural process of natural gas formation. In December, construction started of a demo gasification installation in Alkmaar. This demo facility is built to prove in the coming years – in a phased process – the robustness of the new technology on an industrial scale. SCW Systems and Gasunie New Energy each have a 50% share in the facility.

In the Green Goods project, biomass in the form of grass is converted into high-quality sustainable products, such as proteins for animal feed. The remaining waste is converted into green gas through a fermentation process. Gasunie plays a facilitating role in the latter process. In 2016, together with Cogas, we set up Biogas Network Twente, for which we transport crude biogas that, after reporcessing, is fed into the Cogas gas grid as green gas. The biogas network has been designed in such a way that other manure fermenters can be easily connected. In due course, the biogas network will be able to feed 40 million m3 green gas into the Cogas network.

Heat
A large part of Dutch homes and companies are currently heated using natural gas. In the future, use will increasingly be made of sustainable heat, such as residual industrial heat, geothermal heating and heat from green applications such as solar boilers and hybrid heat pumps. These developments are supported and encouraged by the national government, in line with the Heat Vision presented by the Minister of Economic Affairs in 2015.

We are currently exploring opportunities in the field of large-scale heat projects that contribute to the heat provision of the future. We mainly see our role here as transporter in the heat infrastructure. In December 2016, we signed a letter of intent with the municipality of Groningen, Waterbedrijf Groningen and WarmteStad to arrive at the joint development of a heat grid in the north-western part of the city of Groningen.
In the province of South Holland, we take part in the Warmte Zuid-Holland Cluster West project, together with Havenbedrijf Rotterdam and Warmtebedrijf Westland.

System integration
The supply of sustainable energy deriving from solar panels and wind turbines does not always coincide with the demand for energy. If storage capacity is lacking, this can lead to a costly loss of energy. A smart energy system is needed to ensure balance and in which the various forms of energy and technologies can enhance each other. For example, besides storage, use could be made of various conversion options to convert one energy carrier into another. The gas system can continue to play an important role in this.

Gasunie is firmly committed to a drastic CO2 reduction in the built environment in 2050. The deployment of gas here is limited to coping with peak demand and serving as back-up. Gasunie New Energy is therefore involved in various conversion methods.
In Delfzijl, we participate in the construction of a power-to-gas installation. This installation makes use of oxygen generated by electrolysis in het gasification process of Torrgas.

Insight into sustainable energy production
In November 2016, together with the SER Committee for Assurance of the Energy Agreement, TenneT, Netbeheer Nederland, EnTrance and the University of Groningen, we launched the website www.energieopwek.nl. Here, at any time of the day, visitors can see how much sustainable energy is being produced from wind, solar and biogas in the Netherlands. For the first time, such information about the production of sustainable energy is made available in one place, real-time.

Dilemma – Investing in the energy transition
We aim to contribute to the energy transition. We do this, among other things, by scaling up innovative technologies, such as biomass conversion, power-to-gas, heat grids and CCS. The results described show the successes we achieved in the past year. At the same time, the market for sustainable energy solutions around gas is still relatively young, and thus risky.
There are many technologically interesting initiatives, but only a few projects become financially viable. This means we are faced with start-up losses. When we choose to invest, we always need to weigh the risks against the financial and social gains.

Safety

Safety policy

The safety of our employees and the environment in which we work is an important prerequisite for carrying out our activities. Creating a safe and healthy workplace and minimising the risks to the environment and local communities are therefore clear priorities.
We periodically report on our safety performance and systematically carry out analyses. This is the best way to monitor our performance. We are constantly learning and we strive for continuous improvement. Among other things, we established critical performance indicators with regard to incidents resulting in medical treatment and the number of pipeline damage incidents. The results are taken into account in our collective targets, as we believe that all employees bear responsibility for safety issues.

There are various types of safety: occupational safety, technical safety, external safety and process safety. These are all interrelated.

  • Occupational safety involves the safety of our own employees and contractors. This may be jeopardised, for instance, in the event of human errors, an integrity problem or pipeline damage caused by our operations.
  • Technical safety relates to the integrity of Gasunie’s infrastructure. To properly safeguard this integrity, it is very important that the infrastructure is designed, constructed and maintained correctly.
  • External safety concerns the impact that Gasunie’s infrastructure may have on the environment. For example, underground pipelines may be damaged by excavation work.
  • We aim to limit the risks of the uncontrolled release of dangerous substances and/or energy. In the case of gas transport, this mainly concerns natural gas that is transported under high pressure, natural gas condensate, nitrogen and odorant. We refer to this as process safety.

In the event of, for instance, a human error, an integrity problem or pipeline damage caused by excavation work, the safety of our own employees, contractors or those who are indirectly involved may be at stake. Safety is an important indicator of the quality of our work, and in terms of our safety performance, we aim to be among the best international gas infrastructure companies. European benchmark studies of similar gas transport companies, carried out by Marcogaz (the representative body of the European natural gas industry on technical issues), shows that we are already performing well within our reference group. Below, we describe our main safety results.

Safety results 2016

Number of incidents and absenteeism
In 2016, 47 incidents occurred (2015: 44), of which 19 reportable incidents (2015: 22). This results in a Total Reportable Frequency Index (TRFI) of 3.5 (2015: 3.7). There were 10 incidents resulting in absence (2015: 8).

Due to the decline in the number of projects at Gasunie Deutschland, the number of reportable incidents in Germany went down from 5 to 1, while Gasunie in the Netherlands showed a slight increase, from 17 to 18. The decline in the number of hours worked (which is important in calculating the TRFI) by approximately 10% is largely attributable to the decline in the number of projects at Gasunie Deutschland.


TRFI Gasunie Netherlands + Germany

Number of reportable incidents


Pipeline damage
In 2016, 1 incident of pipeline damage occurred (2015: 5) that potentially could have led to a pipeline failure. An excavation contractor hit a Gasunie pipeline during excavating work.


Total no. of pipeline damage incidents


In 2016, just as in 2015, no incidents occurred involving the release of gas.

To safeguard the integrity of our pipeline system, each year we systematically inspect part of our pipeline system. In 2016, we inspected 218km of pipelines on the inside and 85km on the outside.

Safe@Gasunie

In the coming years, through our ‘Safe@Gasunie’ programme, we strive to improve our safety performance and assurance in all parts of our organisation. The programme focuses on procedures and compliance, process-oriented collaboration and contractor management. We also considered the way in which circuit diagrams (for gas pipeline circuits) are drawn up, and possible process improvements. Due to the large number of conservation projects, many gas jobs are carried out, which means many circuit diagrams need to be drawn up. In this complex process, various departments of GTS, Operations & Projects and Safety are involved. Based on practical experiences, the process has been reassessed. Most improvements have now been implemented, as a result of which gas jobs can be carried out even better, and therefore more safely.

Through our ‘Veilig werken? Zeker weten!’ (Working safely? Of course!) campaign, we encourage people to apply the Last-Minute Risk Analysis (LMRA). Employees who assessed the safety situation before they started work and took action as soon as they detected an unsafe situation or observed unsafe behaviour were allowed to donate € 500 to a charity of their own choice (in line with Gasunie’s criteria). Employees of both Gasunie in the Netherlands and Germany, as well as contractors’ employees, took part in the campaign. In 2016, a total of 11 actions were rewarded.

On many fronts, work is also carried out on less eye-catching activities, such as the optimisation of our procedural structure, the issuance of Safety Alerts, process-focused auditing, and raising safety awareness among contractors.

Environment & Local Community

Minimising the impact on our environment

Some of our business activities have an impact on the environment. These include the construction and maintenance of pipelines and installations, as well as the pressurising, transporting and blending of natural gas. For instance, our maintenance activities and the equipment at our installations lead to emissions of natural gas, and the energy required for gas transport causes indirect emissions. In addition, we use certain substances to ensure the safe functioning of gas transport installations. The activities in our offices affect the environment, too, albeit to only a limited extent. We do everything in our power to minimise the impact of our own business activities on our environment (our footprint).

To guarantee that we take the environment well into account in relevant business processes, we have an environmental management system in place that is certified to the ISO 14001 standard. To ensure compliance with this standard, our management system is checked annually by an external auditing agency. In 2016, this again led to a positive result.

Footprint reduction

CO2 emissions
In 2016, we achieved our collective footprint reduction target (a reduction of 20 kilotonnes of CO2 or more). We achieved this by taking measures with regard to our own operational activities (Scope 1). We are limiting our CO2 emissions in various ways, including by detecting and repairing ‘fugitive’ leaks.

Methane emissions
Our methane emissions in 2016 (6,868 tonnes) were lower than in 2015 (7,205 tonnes). This decrease is mainly due to the fact that we repaired a number of small leaks at various installations, thus eliminating ‘fugitive’ emissions. We are doing this as part of an extensive Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) programme.

Recompression and flaring during work on pipelines
For some years, we have been using a mobile recompression unit which we use to recompress as much as possible of the gas that would otherwise have had to be vented, and transfer it to another pipeline. This reduces the amount of gas vented. In 2016, we recompressed 1.4 million m3(n) of natural gas, which means that we managed to prevent the emission of approximately 20 kilotonnes of CO2 equivalents. We estimate that we saved nearly € 0.4 million on natural gas costs in 2016 by deploying the mobile recompressor.

Monetary value of CO2 emissions
Evaluating the environmental effects of CO2 emissions in monetary terms (‘monetising’ them) is an alternative way to reveal the impact of a company’s activities on society. These social costs can be calculated with the aid of shadow prices, which have been determined by CE Delft.

At a shadow price of € 0.025 per kg of CO2, 739 kilotonnes of CO2 equivalents implies a social cost of approximately € 18.5 million. Thanks to savings of 27.7 kilotonnes in 2016, our shadow costs were reduced by nearly € 0.7 million in the past year.

Procurement of green energy
The Dutch government wants the share of sustainable energy in the Netherlands to grow, aiming for a fully CO2-neutral energy supply by 2050. As a state participation, we feel a particular responsibility in this regard.

The major part of our energy consumption arises from the exploitation of our installations. In 2016, we used more than 686 GWh of electricity, mainly for the production of nitrogen and for driving our compressors. Our electricity consumption increased strongly, due to a much larger demand for nitrogen caused by the reduced gas production from the Groningen field. Electricity consumption will increase further if the required production of nitrogen continues to increase in the future. In addition, we see a rise in electricity consumption as a result of legislation implemented in 2015, which limits the operation of gas compressors to a maximum of five hundred hours per year. New compressors are usually powered by electricity.

As a state participation, we aim to deal responsibly with our resources. However, given the importance of a sustainable energy supply, as of 2016, we will ‘greenify’ 20% of our electricity consumption each year. As of 2021, we aim to have ‘greenified’ our entire electricity consumption by purchasing Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin based on European wind. For a few years now, we have also been purchasing green gas for our offices (800,000 m3/year).

Joint efforts on footprint reduction within the chain
The Fair Infra initiative, which we set up in 2015 together with Enexis, Alliander, Stedin, TenneT, KPN and ProRail to ‘greenify’ our networks, was continued in 2016. Via the ‘Groene Netten’ (Green Grids) platform, we are jointly working on significantly lowering our energy consumption. We will do this by making more use of sustainably generated energy and more efficient energy transport through our networks. We share the knowledge we have gained in this respect, so that others can also make use of it.

In addition, we chair the Methane Emissions work group. This work group was initiated by Marcogaz and aims to share, publish and propose best practices to limit or prevent methane emissions. The work group also is also working on a method for reporting on methane emissions and is collecting data to be able to establish the total methane emissions within Europe of transmission and distribution networks, natural gas storage and LNG. By collecting and accurately reporting on methane emissions in the EU, the work group will be able to take on a trustworthy and representative position towards policy makers.

Energy Efficiency
Within the framework of the Energy Efficiency Directive, GTS has carried out an energy audit at its installations, using the Energy Management standard EN-ISO 50001:2011.

To do this as efficiently as possible, GTS chose to thoroughly investigate energy consumption and saving potential at a number of installations. These installations were subsequently designated as representative of the other installations within this specific category. GTS also carried out an audit at all installations to examine how energy consumption is distributed among the different parts. The audit identified a number of energy saving measures that will be tested on feasibility. These include the expansion of the discharge and suction pipes at the Wieringermeer station and lowering the outlet temperature of heating boilers.

CO2 emissions according to the GHG Protocol

We report in accordance with the standard of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol). This protocol for greenhouse gases distinguishes various categories (scopes), ranked according to the origin of the greenhouse gas.

Scope 1
Scope 1 includes all emissions that are a direct result of our own activities (e.g., the CO2 emissions of gas-fired compressors and engines used for compression, and our own gas consumption for heating buildings and for the boilers at gas receiving stations). Scope 1 also includes the CO2 equivalents from methane emissions, and the emission of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are used in cooling processes.

Scope 2
Scope 2 includes the indirect emissions of energy we have procured (e.g., from an electricity company). In our case, the CO2 equivalents in Scope 2 come mainly from the use of electricity for electrical compressors and for the production of nitrogen. Scope 2 also includes the electricity consumed in our offices and our installation buildings.

Scope 3
Scope 3 includes all other indirect emissions resulting from our business operations (e.g., road, air and rail travel and energy required for producing the nitrogen we procure).

In 2016, total CO2-equivalent emissions increased to 739 kilotonnes (2015: 662 kilotonnes). This was despite the fact that, in Scope 2, already 20% of the electricity we purchased was green electricity. The increase was mainly due to an increase in the volume of nitrogen that we produced ourselves. In 2016, the volume of gas from the Groningen field decreased, which led to an increase in the intake of H-gas. For the quality conversion of H-gas, nitrogen is needed, which requires electricity. Besides an increase in CO2 equivalents due to our own nitrogen production, more nitrogen was also purchased from third parties (Scope 3).

Waste

As a network operator, the amount of waste that we dispose of depends on the projects we carry out. This includes steel and construction and demolition waste. Gasunie tries to prevent waste as much as possible by operating in accordance with Lansink’s Ladder. This method prefers reuse and recycling over incineration and landfill of waste. Ecofys recently carried out a study into Gasunie’s waste flows. This resulted in concrete recommendations to limit the impact of our waste footprint. The recommendations from the report will be followed up in 2017.

The table below provides an overview of the amounts of hazardous and non-hazardous waste that Gasunie disposed of in the past five years. Gasunie’s hazardous waste includes contaminated metal, asbestos-containing materials, oil water/sludge mixtures, condensates and tar-containing waste.

Waste (in tonnes) 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Hazardous waste          
Gasunie in the Netherlands 2.632 4.233 5.833 8.378 6.432
Gasunie in Germany 50 41 47 81 24
Non-hazardous waste          
Gasunie in the Netherlands 22.495 16.029 18.288 14.454 10.605
Gasunie in Germany 585 127 130 162 148

Our waste flows mainly consist of soil, rocks, debris and metals. The graph below shows the waste composition of Gasunie in the Netherlands:

Community engagement

Our activities take place for the benefit of and in the community around us. That is why safe and reliable gas transport and the promotion of efficient gas consumption are at the heart of our policy. Besides carrying out our activities as a gas infrastructure company, we want to do more for society. We do this in various ways, of which we give a number of examples below.

Sponsoring and donations
In the spirit of being a good neighbour, we sponsor activities and events in the Netherlands and Germany and make donations. We have an internal committee that tests grants and rejections every quarter on the basis of our grant criteria, which we have published in part on our website. In 2016, we spent € 276,300 (2015: € 256,459) on sponsoring and donations (69 projects). Gasunie has a long-term sponsor relationship with the Groninger Museum. In 2016, we started sponsoring the Peter the Great Festival.

In Germany, among other things, we sponsored the Sportivationstage in 2016, a large sports event for disabled children, in which more than 4,700 school children participated. Colleagues from Gasunie Deutschland also volunteered to help organise the event. In addition, we sponsor Hannover United, a wheelchair basketball team. We also give presentations at secondary schools and universities, and we regularly open up our head office and catering facilities to relevant organisations (e.g., student organisations).

Employee initiatives
We greatly value our employees’ social activities and in some cases support them in the form of sponsoring. In 2016, we again supported various charity-related events. Many of our employees were literally on the move, in events such as the ‘4 Miles of Groningen’, the ‘Walk for Life’, the ‘KWF Samenloop voor Hoop’ and the Groningen Swim Challenge. In addition, 98 colleagues took part in the Low Car Diet, the largest mobility contest for Dutch companies, in which employees travel as sustainably as possible for one month.

Saving energy together with colleagues
On 1 July 2016, together with neighbourhood association Buurkracht, Gasunie employees set up the ‘virtual Gasunie community’, the first virtual Buurkracht community in the Netherlands. In this Gasunie community, employees can exchange energy-saving tips, gain better insight into their energy consumption, and work on joint energy promotions, such as purchasing a smart meter or a hybrid heat pump. Meanwhile, nearly 200 colleagues have joined the virtual Gasunie community. This initiative follows up on two previous campaigns, which focused on measuring and reducing the energy consumption of electrical devices at home and detecting potential heat leaks.

Energy Challenge
Within the Energy Valley Top Club, we organize ‘Energy Challenges’. Primary and secondary school children are challenged to set up their own energy-saving and sustainability campaigns at their schools and in their communities. Pupils from fourteen schools in the province of Groningen took part in the Energy Challenges 2015/2016. Provincial Executive member Nienke Homan declared the pupils of the Bisschop Bekker school the winner, for having designed and executed the best energy campaign. In total, the participating schools saved more than € 19,000 on energy.

Gasunie takes part in ‘Infranatuur’ Green Deal
In 2016, various parties, including government authorities, infrastructure managers, engineering firms and the Vlinder Foundation, signed the ‘Infranatuur’ Green Deal, with the aim of increasing awareness of biodiversity in relation to Dutch infrastructure. The organisations use their joint experience and knowledge to make biodiversity more self-evident in their own field of work. In this way, infrastructure can make a meaningful contribution to a more sustainable living environment that benefits both people and nature.

Employees

In the Trends & Developments section, we explain which trends in the labour market are affecting our company and employees. To take these effects into account as a business, and to prepare our employees well for future changes, in 2016, we took the first steps in restructuring our employment conditions, adjusting specific points of our remuneration policy and setting up a programme for sustainable employability.

Sustainable HRM and employment conditions policy

Together with the Works Council and the trade unions, we are working on a balanced and future-oriented employment conditions package, based on shared principles, for the next 5 to 7 years. In 2016, we continued the journey we started in 2015, in mutual dialogue with the Works Council and the trade unions. In doing so, we took the above-mentioned developments in our environment into consideration, translating them into a package of measures with respect to employment relationships, sustainable employability, job satisfaction, and remuneration and productivity.

Sustainable employability

We aim to be a flexible organisation that is able to respond well to a quickly changing environment. We therefore need employees who work in an engaged and productive way, both now and in the future, and continue to add value to our company as sustainably employable individuals. In 2016, a team of forty employees set up a programme to help employees achieve this. The programme focuses on four themes: vitality, work situation, career and flexibility. These themes have been worked out in concrete options, such as coaching, retraining and career counselling. The programme is funded partly by the employees themselves and partly by the company. As of 1 January 2017, employees can make use of the programme. The package is a starting point and will be adjusted and expanded in line with employees’ needs.

Training and development

We believe in the concept of ‘life-long learning’. We think it is important for our employees to be able to develop and pursue personal growth during their careers, as this helps to improve sustainable employability. We offer our employees the opportunity to follow specific courses and training programmes, including tailor-made programmes. These are regular training programmes, which are offered in addition to the programme for sustainable employability. In 2016, we spent € 3.2 million on training programmes and courses.

Performance-based pay

As of 2016, all employees are covered by the collective labour agreement, as agreed in consultation with the trade unions. In 2016, a collective pay rise was agreed of 0.8%. As of 2017, the collective targets have been abolished, as we wish to stimulate our employees in a different way. Our employees have been compensated for the abolition of the collective targets. As of 2016, several groups of employees are working on themes related to the realisation of the collective targets of our Executive Board, our strategy and the associated supporting sustainable HRM and employment conditions policy. Our employees discuss these themes in ‘dynamo teams’, in which managers and employees work together on a basis of equality, working out a concrete theme in a short space of time. We expect that, in the future, more employees will be intrinsically motivated to join these dynamo teams. This will not only improve job satisfaction, but also benefit the company.

Participating in the dynamo team on Sustainable Employability has given me an opportunity to reflect on and discuss this highly topical issue. The dynamo meetings were constructive, fun and inspiring, which ultimately led to a great result

Angelique Campagne (Assistant Controller, Gasunie)

Collective targets for employees covered by the collective labour agreement

Collective targets for employees covered by the collective labour agreement
  Target 2016 Result 2016
1. Safety >= 7.5 8.2
Number of reportables <= 3.7 3.5
Pipeline incidents < 6 1
2. Security of supply    
Transport interruptions 0 2
3. Corporate Social Responsibility    
Reducing CO2 emissions >20 kilotonnes 27.7 kilotonnes

Besides these targets, employees who still had an individual employment contract in 2016, had an additional financial target: a reduction of the net operating costs by € 5 million or more (fully realised) and a return on invested capital of 5.94% or more (largely realised). As of 1 January 2017, the individual targets will also be abolished. A phasing-out scheme is in place for this.

Health and wellbeing

We aim for the lowest possible level of absence due to sickness. In 2016, absence due to sickness at Gasunie in the Netherlands was 3.97% (2015: 3.15%). Further research has shown that this increase was entirely due to the increase in long-term absence (more than 42 days) with a non-work-related physical cause. Such a cause is generally beyond our control. We try to shorten the duration of absence by offering the best possible reintegration opportunities. The national average for the Netherlands in 2015 was 3.9%. The figure for 2016 was not yet known on the date of publication of this annual report.
In Germany, absence due to sickness in 2016 was 4.15% (2015: 3.65%).

In 2016, 40.5% of our employees in the Netherlands did not report sick at all (zero absence rate). In 2015, this rate was 45.2%. We offer employees aged forty and older an opportunity to undergo a periodical medical examination once every four years.

Indicator Unit 2015 2015 2016 2016
    GUN GUD GUN GUD
Absence due to sickness (total) Percentage 3.1 3.6 3.97 4.15
- short-term absence Percentage 0.8 1.1 0.8 1.36
- medium-term absence Percentage 0.6 1.2 0.7 1.02
- long-term absence Percentage 1.7 1.3 2.4 1.77
Zero absence Percentage 45.2 - 40.50 -
Absence frequency Frequency 1 1.9 1.14 2.19
Work-related absence (reported by employee) Number 21 - 27 -
Reported to the Netherlands Centre for Occupational Diseases (NCB) Number 1 - 0 -

Equal opportunities for people who are distanced from the labour market

We try to actively attract people who are distanced from the labour market. We have joined various external initiatives that enhance awareness with regard to labour diversity.

In 2015, we took the first steps in implementing the Dutch Participation Act. The Act aims to ensure that, by 2026, 100,000 people who are distanced from the labour market have found jobs with regular employers. In compliance with the Participation Act, our company provided jobs to ten people from the target group in 2016. The group includes both physically and mentally handicapped people, including young disabled people on a ‘Wajong’ benefit. In 2016, we employed five more ‘Wajongers’, which brings the total number of ‘Wajongers’ employed by Gasunie in 2016 to eight. Assuming that a Wajong benefit is approximately € 1,100 per month, this is equivalent to a monetary value of € 8,800 per month, which meant we reduced costs for society by that amount. In the coming years, we will step up our efforts, in line with the agreements laid down in the Dutch Social Plan, to achieve our 2026 target.

In addition, we started a pilot with a school for children with special needs. We also frequently met with other companies in the region, to share knowledge and be inspired. Furthermore, we aim to find an average of seven extra positions per year within our company for people with an occupational disability. In addition, we take part in initiatives to combat youth unemployment by offering traineeships.

Code of Conduct

Our Code of Conduct describes what we expect of our employees in terms of acting with integrity. The Code includes rules for treating colleagues with respect, ethical issues, bribery and corruption, the use of alcohol and drugs, dealing with commercially sensitive information, the use of social media, and making telephone calls while driving. Violations of the Code reported in 2016 were addressed, and appropriate measures were taken by the management. In 2016, we found zero incidents of bribery or corruption.

Reporting misconduct
In 2016, there were no reports of ‘suspected misconduct’ by our employees. In 2016, we trained four of our colleagues as counsellors. Our employees can report to them, anonymously and in confidence, any suspicions of misconduct, such as corruption, fraud, bullying or intimidation. In a non-committal conversation, the counsellor discusses with the employee involved if any action is desired, and if so, what kind of action.

Financial results

Key figures

Key figures
In millions of euros 2016 2015
Revenues 1.548 1.631
Total expenses (1.265) (845)
     
Operating result 283 786
Financial income and expenses (125) (132)
Result of participations 61 71
     
Result before taxation 219 724
Taxes (36) (171)
     
Result after taxation 183 553

Revenues

In 2016, revenues declined by € 83 million compared to last year. This decline was mainly due to efficiency discounts imposed by the regulatory authorities in the Netherlands and lower capacity sales. In addition, at the beginning of this year, some long-term agreements in the non-regulated business expired, which were renewed at lower contract values. In 2016, these effects had a larger impact on the decline of € 83 million, because in 2015, a partial repayment of revenues from WQA (Wobbe Quality Adaption) services delivered had to be made.

Operating result

The operating result decreased by € 503 million. This decrease was mainly due to an impairment of € 450 million. This impairment was the result of a new method decision for GTS as of 2017. Based on the parameters in this method decision, the earning capacity of our regulated assets is decreased to such an extent that an impairment is necessary.

Excluding this impairment, the decline was € 53 million (see table ‘Normalised key figures’). The aforementioned decline in revenues was largely offset by lower expenses. The decline in expenses was in part due to the fact that in 2015, an additional provision of € 22 million was taken to make our infrastructure in Groningen and surroundings more earthquake-proof. In addition, the operating costs were lower due to measures taken as part of our Operational Excellence programme, as well as a decrease in our project portfolio, despite the preparation costs of € 11 million for the possible construction of a nitrogen plant.

Despite an increase in the deployment of nitrogen for the conversion from high-calorific to low-calorific gas following a further decline in the production from the Groningen field, the total energy costs for gas transport went down in 2016. This was mainly due to lower energy prices compared to last year.

Result after taxation

The result after taxation decreased by € 370 million compared to last year. Excluding the impairment (normalised) this decline was € 32 million. The decline in operating result is contrasted by lower financial expenses and lower tax charges. Financial expenses decreased due to lower interest charges on the newly issued bond loans. Tax charges decreased due to lower revenues and as a result of the application of the innovation box tax facility. The result of participations decreased due to a lower result at one of our joint ventures as a result of lower tariffs.

Normalised key figures

Normalised key figures
In millions of euros 2016 2015
Revenues 1.548 1.631
Total expenses*) (815) (845)
     
Operating result 733 786
Financial income and expenses (125) (132)
Result of participations 61 71
     
Result before taxation 669 724
Taxes (148) (171)
     
Result after taxation 521 553

*) Normalised for the effects of the impairment in 2016 (€ 450 million)

Investments

In 2016, we completed the last large expansion projects relating to the development of the gas roundabout. As a result of new initiatives in the field of sustainable energy, our business development investments will slightly increase in the coming years. However, the focus will mainly be on replacing and maintaining our existing gas transport network and other assets.

A number of other multi-year projects are currently running, such as a project aimed at making our network earthquake-proof and the investment project Jason, in which the current gas transport IT systems are being replaced by a new gas transport management system. The completion of the latter project is planned for 2018. The total investment value amounts to approximately € 100 million. Replacement investments are expected to decrease in the coming years due to a reassessment of the multi-year replacement programme. For the coming 3 years, we expect that the annual investment level (replacement and expansion investments) will lie between € 200 and € 300 million.

Financial outlook

On the basis of current insights, we expect to achieve a lower operating result from normal business operations in the coming years.
This will mainly be due to the decline in revenues as a result of the new method decision for GTS as of 2017 and (to a lesser degree) the new method decision for Gasunie Deutschland as of 2018. With regard to the new method decision for GTS, the regulatory authority carried out an efficiency benchmark. Based on the outcome of this benchmark, ACM imposed on us an extra efficiency discount for the period 2017–2021, which led to the aforementioned impairment of € 450 million. This has a major impact on the future operating result: in the coming five years, revenues will gradually decrease by € 200 million. Revenues are also expected to decrease due to the expiry of long-term contracts in the non-regulated business. Due to the expected further decline in our net debt position, financial expenses will decrease further in the coming years. The expected decrease in the net result will therefore be less strong than the decrease in our operating result.

Regulatory receivables and debts

The tariffs that GTS and Gasunie Deutschland are allowed to charge their customers are regulated. They are determined by the regulatory authorities in the Netherlands and Germany respectively on the basis of the permitted revenues and the expected capacity bookings. If the actual revenues deviate from the expected revenues, the difference is settled in the tariffs of later years. For the energy costs of gas transport, a settlement mechanism also applies. For the sake of completeness, we refer to the description of the business models of GTS and Gasunie Deutschland elsewhere in this report. At year-end 2016, the following amounts were outstanding, split in accordance with the periods in which the amounts are settled:

In millions of euros Outstanding as at To be settled in tariffs  
  year-end 2016 2017 2018 and beyond
       
To be settled by GTS (70) (45) (25)
To be settled by GUD 10 (6) 16
  (60) (51) (9)

Given the currently applicable IFRS rules, these positions cannot be included in the balance sheet. They will be accounted for in the profit and loss account as soon as they have been settled via the tariffs of the year in questions.
In 2016, in the revenues in the Netherlands an amount of € 22 million was settled, while revenues in Germany include a repayment of € 29 million.

Financing

In June 2016, we repaid a bond loan of € 700 million. For the purposes of refinancing, in May 2016, we issued a new € 650 million 10-year bond loan at an interest rate of 1%. In March 2017, another bond loan of € 750 million is due to expire. For the benefit of this repayment obligation, in November 2016, a 3-year bond loan was issued of € 300 million, at an interest rate of 0%. Gasunie is the first corporate issuer to arrange financing at this rate.

During 2016, besides short-term deposits on the money market, we also made use of the Euro Commercial Paper (ECP) programme. Our short-term loans decreased during 2016, from € 280 million to € 24 million. This decrease was mainly due to the fact that in 2016 more new long-term loans were issued than existing ones repaid (see the paragraph above).

The total interest-bearing debt at the end of 2016 was € 3,959 million, a decrease of € 28 million compared to year-end 2015. The balance sheet item ‘Cash and cash equivalents’ amounted to € 238 million at the end of 2016 (year-end 2015: € 65 million). As a result, our net debt position (interest-bearing debt less cash) decreased in 2016 by € 201 million to € 3,721 million.

Solvency at year-end 2016 was 55%. Solvency decreased slightly due to a decline in equity by € 116 million. Equity decreased because, due to the impairment, the net result for 2016 was lower than the dividend paid for the result of 2015.

In our financing policy, besides seeking to maintain our liquidity position at an adequate level, we also strive to have sufficient access to financing alternatives and to attract financing as efficiently as possible. To adequately meet these objectives, we make optimum use of the Euro Medium Term Note (EMTN) programme, the aforementioned ECP programme, our own activities on the public and private money and capital markets, and the long-term committed bank credit facility of € 750 million.

Looking ahead, a € 750 million bond loan will need to be repaid in March 2017. However, we expect that we will only need limited new long-term financing during 2017. On the one hand, this is due to the expected positive cash flow from operating and investing activities, and, on the other hand, this is due to the fact that we already anticipated this repayment in November 2016, when we issued the € 300 million bond loan. During both 2018 and 2019, we will need to repay bond loans of € 300 million.

Credit ratings

In 2016, the rating agency Standard & Poor’s maintained our long-term credit rating at AA- with a stable outlook. The short-term rating is A-1+. Moody’s Investors Services’ long-term credit rating is A2 with a stable outlook, and the short-term rating is P-1.

Tax payments

In 2009, we entered into a so-called ‘compliance covenant’ with the Dutch tax authorities, in which we laid down mutual agreements. In line with this covenant, we have set up an internal Tax Control Framework (TCF), on the basis of which we draw up and execute our tax policy, tax processes and control measures. Our tax policy aims to ensure that we pay any taxes due in a timely manner and in accordance with tax laws and regulations in those countries where we carry out business operations.
In the table below, we show how much we paid in taxes for the most important types of taxes.  

in millions of euros 2016 2015
The Netherlands    
Corporation tax 104 131
Turnover tax 70 99
Wage tax 65 62
Dividend tax 50 54
Total 289 346
     
Germany    
Corporation tax 27 19
Turnover tax 20 22
Wage tax 11 12
Total 58 53

The lower turnover tax payments in the Netherlands (€ 70 million in 2016 compared to € 99 million 2015) was mainly due to lower revenues in the fourth quarter of 2015 and the first three quarters of 2016.