DOT Pipeline Compliance News

December 2023 Issue

In This Issue


Amended Corrective Action Order for Enable Gas

PHMSA issued an amended corrective action order for Enable Gas due to a pipeline rupture that occurred on October 4, 2023, on its 24-inch natural gas transmission pipeline near Jessieville, Arkansas. The Enable Gas control room was alerted by the public to a possible pipeline rupture and responded to shut-in the affected segment of their 24-inch pipeline. The rupture and ignition of the pipeline caused extensive damage to nearly all aboveground piping and appurtenances at the Jessieville Junction Station. A visual inspection of the failed pipe segment by operator’s on-site personnel appeared to show an area of extensive external corrosion with one area reading 0.130 ­inches, or 46% remaining wall thickness. Prior incidents on this line occurred in 2014 and 2019 and were due to near-neutral pH stress corrosion cracking.

For more information about this CAO, please email Jessica Foley.


Ecological USA Update Coming in 2024

PHMSA has hired a contractor to update the location of Ecological Unusually Sensitive Areas for Liquid IMP HCA analysis.  The update is scheduled for Q4 2024. While we can’t pinpoint the exact release date by PHMSA, it’s likely to hit the public domain sometime in November or December 2024.  Operators will then need to use this updated dataset for their ”could affect” analysis that determines which liquid pipeline segments are required to be in their integrity management plans.

Note that PHMSA requires liquid pipeline operators to conduct a “could affect” analysis even if they voluntarily include all of their pipe segments in their IMP. 

RCP’s GIS experts will be prepared to use this new dataset to assist our clients in their HCA analysis as soon as it is released.  For further information, please message Jessica Foley.


Minnesota Pipeline Routing Rule Change 

The State of Minnesota has revised the definitions in Chapter 216G – Pipelines concerning ROUTING OF CERTAIN PIPELINES (216G.02).  The rule revisions are given below (emphasis added):  

Subdivision 1. Definitions. 

  • For purposes of this section, the following terms defined in this subdivision have the meanings given: 
  • “Gas” means natural gas, flammable gas, carbon dioxide, gas that is toxic, or gas that is corrosive, regardless of whether the material has been compressed or cooled to a liquid or supercritical state
  • “Hazardous liquid” means petroleum, petroleum products, anhydrous ammonia, or a substance included in the definition of hazardous liquid under Code of Federal Regulations, title 49, section 195.2, as amended. 
  • Notwithstanding section 216G.01, subdivision 3, “pipeline” means: 
    – pipe with a nominal diameter of six inches or more that is designed to transport hazardous liquids, but does not include pipe designed to transport a hazardous liquid by gravity, and pipe designed to transport or store a hazardous liquid within a refining, storage, or manufacturing facility; or 
    – pipe designed to be operated at a pressure of more than 275 pounds per square inch and to carry gas

Note that these rules apply to “pipeline” routing, not pipeline safety, and require “pipelines” to obtain a pipeline routing permit issued by the Public Utilities Commission prior to construction.   

Editor’s Note: “Gas” would include natural gas that has been cooled to become LNG, as well as all states of CO2 except dry ice.  This combination of definitions results in supercritical CO2 being simultaneously considered both a gas and a liquid, since the federal regulations consider supercritical CO2 to be a liquid.   

For more information about the Minnesota Pipeline Routing Rule Change, please contact Jessica Foley.


The Enforcement Corner

The Enforcement Corner summarizes recent PHMSA enforcement actions, indicating where PHMSA is putting its enforcement efforts and the fines they are proposing for various types of violations.

In October 2023, PHMSA issued 1 CAO, 6 NOAs, 1 NOPSO, 6 NOPVs, and 4 WLs accompanied by $87,800 in proposed fines. Significant proposed fines were attributed to the following code sections:

  • $87,800 – 49 CFR 195.440(c) – Public Awareness 

Please note: 

  1. Pipeline operators may disagree in whole or in part with each proposed violation cited by PHMSA.  
  1. Proposed Civil Penalties (PCP) may be reduced or eliminated before an enforcement action becomes final. 
  1. A Corrective Action Order (CAO) usually addresses urgent situations arising out of an accident, spill, or other significant, immediate, or imminent safety or environmental concerns. 
  1. A Notice of Amendment (NOA) is frequently a result of a difference of opinion regarding written procedure requirements. 
  1. A Notice of Proposed Safety Order (NOPSO) addresses pipeline integrity risks that may not constitute a hazardous facility requiring immediate corrective action (see Corrective Action Order described above), but do need to be addressed over time. 
  1. A Notice of Probable Violation (NOPV) is not proof that a violation actually occurred. 
  1. Proposed Compliance Orders (PCO) frequently document actions the pipeline operator already planned to do. 
  1. Warning Letter (WL) is an official notice by PHMSA that an operator needs to make improvements but that no further enforcement is proposed for those findings at this time. 

RCP maintains a detailed database of all PHMSA enforcement actions dating back to 2007 and is routinely asked for data analysis of various enforcement actions. For more information on how RCP can assist with enforcement action data analysis services, contact Jessica Foley

Need to respond to a PHMSA enforcement action?
Need to know if your enforcement action is an outlier, or par for the course? 

RCP maintains a detailed database of all PHMSA enforcement actions and their resolution which enables us to compare and contrast individual enforcement actions to nationwide actions and trends.  We can help put things into context to ensure an effective reply for each citation.  For more information on how RCP can assist with enforcement action data analysis services, contact Jessica Foley.


2024 Conference News

Pipeline Pigging & Integrity Management Conference
February 12-16, 2024 | George R. Brown Convention Center | Houston, TX 

The Pipeline Pigging and Integrity Management Conference (PPIM) in Houston, Texas, serves as a pivotal gathering for professionals in the pipeline industry. This annual event brings together experts, engineers, and industry leaders to discuss the latest advancements and best practices in pipeline integrity, maintenance, and inspection. Attendees can expect insightful presentations, interactive discussions, and access to cutting-edge technologies aimed at ensuring the safe and efficient operation of pipelines. PPIM in Houston serves as a hub for networking, knowledge exchange, and collaboration, playing a crucial role in shaping the future of pipeline integrity management.

Click here to register to attend PPIM.


Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) Annual Meeting
March 6-8, 2024 | Hilton Columbus at Easton | Columbus, OH

The Ohio Oil and Gas Association (OOGA) Annual Meeting unites key figures from both state and national spheres to deliberate on the pressing matters shaping the Ohio oil and gas sector. As the foremost business gathering of the Association, it serves as a focal point for industry leaders, providing a platform for discussions on contemporary challenges and opportunities. Attendees can engage in a spectrum of activities, including Business Sessions to delve into critical topics, Breakout Sessions for in-depth exploration, a comprehensive Trade Show showcasing innovations, and Networking Receptions offering invaluable opportunities for professional connections.

Click here to register to attend OOGA.


Texas Gas Association (TGA) Distribution Roundtable 2024
March 25-26, 2024 | New Braunfels Civic enter | New Braunfels, TX

The TGA Distribution Roundtable will provide information for natural gas distribution professionals. This gathering of the best minds in the industry encourages discussions on the current state and federal regulations, best practices, and new technologies. It allows for face-to-face exchange of information and ideas on what works and what doesn’t.

Click here to register to attend TGA Distribution Roundtable.


AGA Operations Conference & Spring Committee Meetings
April 28-May 2, 2024 | Hyatt Regency Seattle | Seattle, WA

The Operations Conference is the natural gas industry’s premier gathering of utilities, distribution, and transmission operators.  Leaders and technical experts from across North America and the world attend the event. Developed by gas operators for gas operators – this event is the industry’s largest annual forum with regularly more than 800 operations management in attendance. The event offers technical sessions with topics to include but not be limited to gas measurement, pipeline integrity, operations advocacy, system safety, environment, storage, engineering, renewable natural gas, construction and maintenance, gas control, supplemental gas, corrosion control, and piping materials. Attendees share technical knowledge, leadership strategies, and learning events promoting the safe, reliable, and cost-effective delivery of natural gas to the end-user.

Click here to register for the AGA Operations Conference & Spring Committee Meetings.


Season’s Greetings from RCP!
RCP would like to thank our valued clients for the opportunities you have given us to serve as your Professional Engineers, Regulatory Experts, and Trusted Partners. We look forward to working with you on even more projects in the years ahead. Best wishes for the holiday season and the New Year, from your friends at RCP.

Sincerely,

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