NGX: First-Ever Nationwide Tabletop Drill Focused on Natural Gas

Washington, DC – Natural Gas Exercise (NGX) the first-ever nationwide tabletop drill focused on natural gas distribution and transmission cybersecurity, physical security and business continuity took place on September 8, 2022. Nearly 300 industry professionals representing 50 natural gas utilities, transmission companies and municipalities participated in the inaugural event, NGX-2022, hosted by the American Gas Association (AGA). The U.S. Department of Energy and the Transportation Security Administration also participated.

“The NGX premiere was a groundbreaking exercise and a huge success. From the insightful dialogue throughout the day, participating companies took away lessons learned and identified opportunities to enhance their security response plans,” said AGA Senior Manager of Security Amanda Sramek.

NGX will take place biennially, giving industry operators a chance to test their corporate response plans. NGX provides a mechanism to bring together the natural gas transmission and distribution community to interact and share practices while playing out security scenarios in real time.

“We were excited to support the facilitation and participate in the inaugural National Gas Exercise (NGX),” said Brian Marko, Energy Sector Exercises program manager for the Department of Energy’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response (CESER). “As the sector risk management agency for the U.S. energy sector, it is always encouraging to see the emphasis and prioritization of preparedness and resilience planning by industry partners. We look forward to seeing the evolution of the exercise series and eager to support its efforts to focus on difficult problem sets experienced by the natural gas industry.”

Steve Swift, a supervisor with the crisis management group for Ameren, helped prepare for the scenario. “That is where the real progress is made. When you’ve got a diverse group of people with unique outlooks and varied experiences, they make a much richer exercise than you would get if you did it internally. And that’s really beneficial,” said Swift. Ameren powers the quality of life for 2.4 million electric customers and more than 900,000 natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area through its Ameren Missouri and Ameren Illinois rate-regulated utility subsidiaries.

While natural gas companies conduct security exercises internally and are invited to other energy-related exercises, there has not been a nationwide exercise focused on natural gas… until now.