In This Issue

Gas Gathering Line Definition – Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

At present, PHMSA’s safety standards do not apply to onshore gathering lines in rural locations, while onshore gathering lines in non-rural locations must meet the same requirements as transmission lines. In addition, PHMSA does not regulate “production facilities” in either rural or non-rural environment, since these facilities are under the jurisdiction of the EPA. The definition of “gas gathering” has been the subject of much discussion for over 30 years. The current regulations essentially say that gathering begins at the end of production, gathering ends at the beginning of transmission, and that transmission begins at the end of gathering. Thus it is frequently unclear if a pipeline is an exempt production line, a gathering line (possibly exempt), or a regulated transmission line.

PHMSA has recently proposed new definitions for gas gathering, based on API RP-80, that should clarify the difference between production, gas gathering, and transmission. PHMSA has also developed a new risk classification system, based on pipeline pressure and population density, to determine which of the gathering pipelines are “regulated onshore gathering lines.” This risk classification system would also be used to establish safety standards for the higher-risk onshore gathering lines, and to relax current standards on the low-risk onshore gathering lines. (Onshore gathering lines in inlets of the Gulf of Mexico are not affected by this rulemaking.) Operators would use a new risk-based approach to determine which of its gathering lines are “regulated onshore gathering lines” and what safety standards the lines must meet.

OPS has not yet posted this Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on its website. For a copy, contact Jessica

For further information contact DeWitt Burdeaux by phone at 405-954-7220 or by e-mail at Persons interested in submitting written comments on the rules proposed in this notice must do so by January 3, 2006. Late filed comments will be considered so far as practicable. [Docket No. RSPA-1998-4868; Notice 5]; RIN 2137-AB15.