Abstract The paper presents a decision model for risk assessment and for risk ranking of sections of natural gas pipelines based on multi-attribute utility theory. Pipeline hazard scenarios are surveyed and the reasons for a risk assessment model based on a multi-attribute approach are presented. Three dimensions of impact and the need to translate decision-makers’ preferences into risk management decisions are highlighted. The model approaches these factors by using a multi-attribute utility function, in order to produce multi-dimensional risk measurements. By using decision analysis concepts, this model quantitatively incorporates the decision-maker's preferences and behavior regarding risk within clear and consistent risk measurements. In order to support the prioritizing of critical sections of pipeline in natural gas companies, this multi-attribute model also allows sections of pipeline to be ranked into a risk hierarchy. A numerical application based on a real case study was undertaken so that the effectiveness of the decision model could be verified.