In This Issue

MMS Proposed OCS Rules – Revising 30 CFR Parts 250, 253, 254 and 256

The Minerals Management Service (MMS) has proposed rulemaking to completely revise the MMS Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) pipeline and pipeline Rights-of-Way (ROW) regulations to bring them up to date with current industry practices and technology. The regulations were last revised in 1988.

The proposed rule incorporates parts of several new and revised industry standards into the regulations. It also incorporates several conditions of approval for pipelines, plus guidance from various Notices to Lessees and Operators (NTLs) and one Letter to Lessees and Operators (LTL) into one set of comprehensive pipeline regulations. The proposed regulations would eliminate several NTLs and the LTL. MMS also proposes codifying the Coastal Zone Management information requirements for affected states for the first time in the pipeline regulations.

Significant changes include:

  • a requirement that companies prepare, follow, and update pipeline operations and maintenance manuals, pipeline integrity management programs, emergency plans, and personnel training manuals.
  • a complete revision of the regulations covering pipeline modifications and pipeline repairs to more closely resemble the requirements covering new pipelines.
  • new performance requirements for pipeline fabrication.
  • a requirement that all pipeline risers attached to floating platforms be subject to an independent third party review of the design, fabrication and installation of the pipeline risers, similar to, but separate from, the platform verification program.
  • a requirement for visual surveys of all pipeline routes at least monthly. It would also require annual inspections of each pipeline riser in and above the splash zone, and inspection of the underwater portions of the riser in conjunction with the platform inspection requirements in 30 CFR 250, subpart I.
  • a requirement that pipeline companies in the Alaska OCS Region (AKOCSR) and Pacific OCS Region (POCSR) take cathodic protection readings on all pipeline during repairs and hot tap installations, not just on those pipelines that are over 20 years old.
  • a change in the deadline for reporting anode system inspections from March 1 to October 31 of each year, with the inspections to be conducted no later than September 30 of each year.
  • a requirement for marking pipeline segment numbers on the pipeline at each platform. The proposed rule would require marking immediately for new pipelines, but allows 6 months to mark existing pipelines.
  • a requirement that activities for lease term pipelines be covered in DOCDs in the western Gulf of Mexico (GOM), and in DPPs in the eastern GOM and in the Pacific and Alaska OCS Regions. The proposed rule imposes similar requirements for information on ROW pipeline applications that must be addressed in the DOCD and DPP required by subpart B for lease term pipelines.
  • an increase in the ROW bonding amount to $300,000 for an individual bond or $1 million for an area bond, which would cover all pipeline ROW grants held by the company in one MMS OCS region.
  • an increase annual rental fees for pipeline ROW grants, currently US $15 per mile, to $70 per mile.

Comments to the proposed rule are due by January 31, 2008 to — use the Regulation Identifier Number (RIN) 1010-AD11 in the subject line on all correspondence. For technical questions call Alex Alvarado, Pipeline Section, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region at (504) 736-2547.

For a copy of the MMS proposed rule, contact Jessica Roger.