DOT Pipeline Compliance News

April 2019 Issue

In This Issue

PHMSA Enforcement Discretion Regarding Farm Taps

[Docket ID: PHMSA-2018-0086]

PHMSA announced it was exercising enforcement discretion with respect to portions of a final rule issued January 23, 2017, that pertain to individual service lines directly connected to a natural gas transmission, gathering, or production pipeline (farm taps). The January 23, 2017, final rule exempted these lines from PHMSA regulations requiring operators of distribution pipelines to implement a Distribution Integrity Management Program (DIMP), and instead added maintenance and inspection requirements that apply specifically to farm taps.

Pursuant to the exercise of enforcement discretion announced in this document, PHMSA will not take enforcement action against operators who forego the new maintenance and inspection requirements and instead mitigate any future risk associated with farm taps through compliance with the existing DIMP regulations. This will provide regulatory flexibility to pipeline operators while at the same time maintaining an equivalent level of safety.

This action is effective March 26, 2019. For additional information or questions, contact Chris McLaren at  or (281) 216-4455.

For a copy of PHMSA’s Farm Tap notice from the Federal Register, contact Jessica Foley.

PHMSA Special Notice: Identifying Pipeline Safety Research Gaps

On Friday, March 8, 2019, PHMSA released a special notice allowing any interested stakeholder to submit ideas for future research.  This notice will be open year round and revised every six months to reflect further guidance for interested stakeholders.  PHMSA is conducting this action to widen the participation in formulating its research program future strategy.  This inaugural action is managed by a submitted form but will be revised to a web based portal in future notices.  Please share this announcement with anyone you feel should be aware and please find much more information on the website.

PHMSA Posts Updated Civil Penalty Summary

On February 25th 2019, PHMSA posted a general overview of how civil penalty calculations are derived following an inspection or investigation of a pipeline facility that reveals a probable violation.  Several factors are listed as Assessment Considerations, along with various ranges of conduct and civil penalties.  As of November 27, 2018, under 49 U.S.C. § 60122 and 49 CFR § 190.223, operators are subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $213,268 per violation per day the violation persists up to a maximum of $2,132,679 for a related series of violations.  For more information, contact Jessica Foley.

DOT Issues Notice to Review Guidance Documents

The Office of Secretary of Transportation published a Notice in the Federal Register on February 5th seeking public comment on whether departmental guidance documents should be updated.  For PHMSA, these guidance documents include Frequently Asked Questions, Enforcement Guidance, Letters of Interpretation and Advisory Bulletins.  These documents can serve a number of purposes including: (1) Clarifying the pertinent statutory and regulatory requirements; (2) assisting with statutory and  regulatory compliance; and (3) communicating the Department’s position on an issue.  DOT recognizes that in some instances, even non-binding guidance may spur cost-inducing actions by regulated entities. DOT also recognizes that some guidance documents may need to be rescinded or updated to reflect developments, such as technological changes, that took place after the guidance was issued.

DOT is requesting public comment for existing guidance documents that

  • are no longer necessary;
  • spur cost inducing action by the regulated entities;
  • are inconsistent or unclear;
  • may not be conducive to uniform or consistent enforcement; or
  • need to be updated to reflect developments that have taken place since the guidance was issued.

For more information or to submit comments, go to Docket DOT–OST–2017–0069 here.

Colorado Damage Prevention State Law Updates

[Colorado Register, Vol. 42, No. 6, 03/25/2019 Tracking Number 2019-00070]

The Colorado Underground Damage Prevention Safety Commission Regulations 7 CCR 1101-8 became effective on February 14, 2019.

These regulations are to establish rules for the Underground Damage Prevention Safety Commission (Safety Commission) responsibilities within the Excavation Requirements Act §§ 9-1.5-101, et. seq., C.R.S. (the Act). The purpose of the Safety Commission is to prevent injury to persons and damage to property.

Colorado has granted the Safety Commission the ability to review complaints from any person of alleged violations of the Excavation Requirements Act and to pursue enforcement action through penalties or remedial actions where necessary.

The review will be completed by a review committee consisting of 3 – 5 members of the Safety Commission representing an equal number of excavators and owners/operators plus one member that is not representative of either. The review process will include a complaint form submitted to the Safety Commission and within 90 days of submittal, the committee shall schedule a hearing. The Safety Commission may file a Data Request Form with Colorado 811 to access ticket information.

At the hearing, all parties may present information to the committee. After reviewing all oral and written documentation, the committee will determine whether a violation has occurred and report its findings and recommendations 7 days after the completion of the hearing. The findings will then be reviewed by the Safety Commission at the next scheduled meeting and amend any findings which will then be reported to all involved parties within 10 days.

Remedial actions or penalties may be enforced if a violation has occurred. See the table below for Potential Enforcement Penalties.

The Review Committee shall not recommend remedial action or a fine against a homeowner, rancher, or farmer, unless the Review Committee finds by clear and convincing evidence that a violation of the law has occurred.

More information can be found on the Colorado State website.

April is National Safe Digging Month

The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) is a member-driven association of individuals, organizations and sponsors in every facet of the underground utility industry. CGA is committed to saving lives and preventing damage to underground infrastructure by promoting effective damage prevention practices. Damage prevention starts with one phone call, and since 2007 the phone number for that call has been 811. CGA has created several easy-to-use tools to help promote National Safe Digging Month (NSDM) and dialing 811. Visit the 811 Toolkit page on CGA’s website to download a suite of NSDM media materials, social media messages and infographics, advertising materials and more.

Steve Nowaczewski Joins RCP’s Underground Gas Storage Team

Steve Nowaczewski has joined RCP’s Underground Gas Storage Team. If you have been in the storage industry, you probably already know Steve. He has spent over 35 years in the industry developing and operating underground natural gas storage facilities in North America. Steve is an industry leader, including co-chairing the task group that developed API Recommended Practice 1171, “Functional Integrity of Underground Natural Gas Storage Facilities in Depleted Reservoirs and Aquifers”. Steve has earned the American Gas Association Gold Award of Merit and was awarded the AGA Trailblazer Award for recent underground gas storage regulatory advocacy efforts. Over the last few years, Steve has participated in and led’ the API/INGAA/AGA Joint Industry Task Force on Gas Storage Integrity, publishing white papers on well integrity, emergency shut down valves and risk management processes. Steve joins RCP’s incredible group of underground gas storage integrity leaders, including Rick Gentges, Terry Rittenhour and Phil Baker, providing expert support for this vital segment of the natural gas industry. For more information or to inquire about RCP’s underground gas storage integrity support, visit our website or contact Jessica Foley.

2019 Industry Conference Schedule

Have you registered and confirmed your reservations for these upcoming conferences? RCP will be attending the following conferences. We hope to see you there!

API Pipeline Conference and Control Room Forum
April 9-11, 2019
Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Hotel, Phoenix, AZ

API’s Pipeline Conference is the premier event of its kind in the U.S.  Held every year in April, the conference provides attendees with an opportunity to hear about the latest in pipeline-related developments.  Once again, RCP is a proud sponsor of this event and we look forward to seeing you there.

AGA Operations Conference and Biennial Exhibition & Spring Committee Meetings
April 29-May 3, 2019
Gaylord Opryland, Nashville, TN
RCP Booth #1303 / Be our Guest and Click Here for a Free Exhibit Hall Pass.

Complimentary Customer Day Passes

Complimentary exhibit hall passes are free and authorize a passholder admission to the exhibit hall.  The free admission exhibit hall passes authorize a passholder admission to the exhibit hall on Wednesday, May 1 from 12:30 pm to 5:30 pm (no exceptions to admittance times). Use the Click Here link above to request a Free Exhibit Hall Pass. RCP can help you meet your integrity and compliance requirements. Stop by booth #1303 where we can walk through any of our services and software solutions.

Mark your calendar and plan to attend one of these sessions from RCP Staff:

W. R. “Bill” Byrd, RCP President
Thursday, May 2nd, 10:55 – 11:35
Track C5: Quality Management/Construction Operations/Integrity Management
“Management Systems and Goldilocks: How Much Process Rigor Is Just Right for Your PSMS?”

Sheri Baucom, RCP Director of Integrity Services
Thursday, May 2nd, 3:55 – 4:35
Track D2: Engineering/Customer Field Services & Measurement
Pressure Testing Objectives and Acceptance Criteria”

Sheri Baucom, RCP Director of Integrity Services
Friday, May 3rd, 8:30 – 9:10
Track E2: Integrity Management
ILI Data – Closing the Loop”

NEW 1-Day Pressure Test Design & Analysis

RCP is now offering a 1-Day Pressure Test Design & Analysis Workshop at its facilities in downtown Houston. This workshop is appropriate for all those responsible for the design, execution and/or evaluation of any type of pipeline pressure test on liquid or gas pipelines whether it be new construction or in-situ. With specific focus on the engineering aspect of pressure testing, project managers & engineers as well as compliance staff of pipeline operating companies would benefit the most from this training.


The principles of good pressure test design and evaluation will be the focus for the morning session. All pressure types will be covered, including discussion on calculating the MAOP or MOP from test pressures. The afternoon session will discuss the execution of pressure tests including reviewing a test plan, case studies and how to properly document and close the loop on pressure tests.


  • Designing a Pressure Test
  • Pressure Test Acceptance Criteria
  • Evaluating a pressure test
  • Planning and Documentation
  • Case Studies
  • Pressure Test Myths and Misinformation

For more information and registration, click here.

RCP Workshops – Which one should I attend?

Introduction to DOT Pipeline Regulations
The DOT pipeline workshop covers federal regulatory requirements and their applicability to both hazardous liquid and natural gas gathering, transmission, and distribution pipeline operators.

It is appropriate for people who are new to pipeline regulations, need a refresher course or better understanding of current and pending DOT rule makings as well as how they are applied to their job or their group, including operational, supervisory, and managerial personnel.

Fundamentals of Energy Transmission Pipelines (FETP)
The Fundamentals of Energy Transmission workshop provides participants an overview of how transmission pipelines operate and walks them through the practical things that a typical pipeline company does on a regular basis to operate and maintain the pipeline system as a whole.

It is appropriate for both technical and non-technical personnel who are new to the transmission pipeline industry, as well as those who need a broader understanding of the pipeline operations and management such as new hires, managers and executives from outside the pipeline industry, including attorneys, and business development professionals.

The table below gives some examples of the differences between these courses:

Introduction to DOT PL RegulationsFundamentals of Energy Transmission Pipelines
What are the regulatory requirements for energy transmission pipelines?Why do we have energy transmission pipelines?

How do they make money?

What do the operations and engineering people do in our company, and why?
What are the inspection requirements for a mainline valve?What are the different types of valves? When is each type used?
How are breakout tanks defined?What are the different types of tanks? When is each type used?
What is the definition of line pipe?How is pipe made? What are the important differences?
What are the requirements for integrity management?Why are we doing integrity management?
What are the procedure requirements for pumps and compressors?What are the various types of pumps and compressors, and how do they differ?

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss our services with you.


Bill Byrd signature
W. R. (Bill) Byrd, PE
RCP Inc.