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Gas pipeline operator brings in procurement specialist for checks on high-pressure system contractors Transco probes suppliers

TRANSCO has called in a procurement consultant to run the rule over 12 of its major suppliers to tighten supply chain management procedures.

Stratford-Upon-Avon consultant Robert-son & Cox has just finished its survey of the firms involved in building and maintaining Transco's £1 billion high-pressure National Transmission System (NTS).

The gas pipeline operator refused to name the firms but said they had been chosen randomly. Transco said some were UK-based and included pipeline contractors.

A spokesman said: 'It is a review of our procurement processes as well as an assessment of our partnerships.'

But one pipeline contractor said: 'Some contractors handle their procurement better than others and I know that some are being looked into by Transco at the moment. Transco has been turning all contracts upside down as it is trying to be more efficient now it is under the regulator.

'Transco hasn't been the easiest client and in return some contractors might have been looking to ease the pain.'

Professor Andrew Cox, partner in the survey firm and a specialist in procurement strategy based at Birmingham University, is expected to report his findings to the pipeline operator next week.

The Transco spokesman said: 'If there are any learning points in the report we will let the contractors know in due course.

'The survey will give an idea of likely efficiencies to be gained, opportunities and incentives.'

In a further procurement review, the firm has started a cost-cutting shake-up of materials procurement on the NTS.

Transco always controlled the ordering of steel pipe and it has now taken charge of pre-ordering bulk lots of equipment such as valves, pipe bends and junctions.

Previously, contractors would place an order direct to the manufacturer for such materials upon securing a contract. The contractor would then wait for the materials to come through.

The new system should decrease down-time while contractors wait for these orders to filter through as the manufacturer should already be holding pre-ordered Transco stock.