DOT Pipeline Compliance News

February 2024 Issue

In This Issue

NTSB has issued its Final Incident Report on the 2021 San Pedro Bay Crude Oil Pipeline Incident

In its final report, NTSB has recommended PHMSA to encourage operators to implement PSMS. The following recommendation was approved by the NTSB Board to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. 

“Issue an advisory bulletin to all Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration-regulated pipeline owners and operators, promoting the benefits of pipeline safety management systems and asking them to develop and implement such a system based on American Petroleum Institute Recommended Practice 1173. (P-24-2)” 

NTSB has indicated that it intends to follow up with additional correspondence that will (1) give kudos to operators who have voluntarily implemented PSMS, and (2) ask operators who have not implemented PSMS to do so.  

For a copy of the incident report, please contact Jessica Foley

PHMSA Delivers Proposed Rule On Carbon Pipeline Safety To White House OMB

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration on Feb. 2 delivered a proposed rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget focused on improving the safety of carbon dioxide pipelines. OMB review marks a final stage before a proposed rule is released for public comment.Erin Voegele, Carbon Capture Magazine.

This Proposed rulemaking would amend PHMSA’s Pipeline Safety Regulations (49 CFR parts 190-199) to adopt revisions that would enhance the safe transportation of carbon dioxide by pipelines to accommodate an anticipated increase in the number of carbon dioxide pipelines and volume of carbon dioxide transported. Also, this proposed rulemaking would include requirements related to emergency preparedness and response for carbon dioxide.

For more information about this topic, please contact Jessica Foley.

PHMSA’s Enforcement Discretion: Onshore Gas Transmission Pipeline Regulations Update and Relief Period Extension 

PHMSA will exercise enforcement discretion for onshore gas transmission pipelines that entered into service after August 24, 2022, and will not initiate enforcement action for an additional nine (9) months (to February 24, 2024) with the exception of the following:  

  1. §§ 192.917(b) applies to data gathering and integration, and 192.13(d) pertains to the Management of Change 
  1. §§ 192.319 establishes coating evaluation and records retention requirements for construction projects of 1,000 ft or more, while 192.461 establishes coating assessment requirements for repair or replacement projects of 1,000 ft or more. Additionally, 192.613 establishes requirements for inspection after extreme weather events 

While these enforcement discretion actions provide limited relief in the form of an extension, pipeline operators should initiate their program updates as soon as practicable, as RIN 2 requirements are robust and require careful and thorough Operations and Maintenance and Integrity Management Program updates. 

For more information regarding this enforcement discretion, please contact Jessica Foley

PHMSA Form Updates

PHMSA has made changes to several forms as listed below. 

PHMSA updated these forms on January 10, 2024 

  • OpID Assignment Request F1000.1 
  • Liquefied Natural Gas Facilities Annual Report F7100.3-1 
  • Underground Natural Gas Storage Annual Report Instructions F7100.4-1 

PHMSA updated these forms on January 2 & 3, 2024 

  • PHMSA Drug Alcohol IA Question Set 
  • PHMSA Gas Distribution IA Question Set 
  • PHMSA Gas Transmission IA Question Set 
  • PHMSA Hazardous Liquid IA Question Set 
  • PHMSA LNG IA Question Set 
  • Gas Transmission and Gathering Systems Annual Report F7100.2-1 
  • Gas Transmission and Gathering Systems Annual Instructions F7100.2-1 

You can download copies of these forms here

PHMSA Issues FAQ for RIN 2 Gas Transmission Rule

PHMSA has posted new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) related to “Pipeline Safety: Safety of Gas Transmission Pipelines: Repair Criteria, Integrity Management Improvements, Cathodic Protection, Management of Change, and Other Related Amendments” Rule (87 FR 52224 (Aug. 24, 2022)), as amended by 88 FR 24708 (Apr. 24, 2023) (collectively, the “2022 Gas Transmission Final Rule”). 

The FAQ addresses the following questions:

  • When evaluating a pipeline to determine if it is a “transmission line,” how should an operator consider the phrase “a connected series of pipelines” in § 192.3?
  • May an “in-line inspection” be performed using free-swimming tools?
  • What data do I consider when identifying and evaluating threats under § 192.917? What data is “pertinent”?
  • Section § 192.465 references two terms for different sources of external cathodic causes to investigate and mitigate — non-systemic and systemic causes — what’s the difference?
  • What remediation schedule should be implemented for a monitored condition under § 192.933(d)(3) with indications it “is expected to grow to dimensions” prior to the next scheduled assessment? How do I judge whether a monitored condition is expected to grow in dimensions?
  • The monitored conditions at §§ 192.714(d)(3) and 192.933(d)(3) include that “critical strain levels are not exceeded.” How should I treat a condition if the critical strain levels of my anomaly are exceeded?

Per PHMSA’s release:

“PHMSA provides FAQ to help the public understand how to comply with the regulations. FAQ are not substantive rules, do not have the force or effect of law, and do not create new legal obligations. An operator who is able to demonstrate that it is acting in accordance with FAQ is likely to be able to demonstrate compliance with the relevant regulations. If a pipeline operator chooses not to follow FAQ, the operator must be able to demonstrate the operator’s conduct complies with the regulations.”

Click here to download a copy of these FAQ.

RCP has been actively assisting our clients with developing effective programs to comply with the recently finalized gas transmission and gathering rules.  For more information, contact Jessica Foley.

2024 D&A Random Rate, MIS Reporting Data

Docket No. PHMSA-2023-0116

On December 8th, 2023, PHMSA published in the Federal Register a notice announcing that it has determined the minimum random drug testing rate for covered employees will remain at 25 percent during calendar year 2024. Of special note, for calendar year 2023 reporting, DOT is introducing MFA login procedures for submitting D&A testing data into the DAMIS database. This notice also explains how pipeline operators and contractors will obtain MFA login information.  The effective dates of the current January 1, 2024, through December 31, 2024.

For a copy of the published notice, please message Jessica Foley.

GPAC Meeting Notice March 2024 

The next Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee (GPAC) meeting will discuss the Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) and Class Location Notice of Proposed Rule Makings (NPRM). The meeting is set to take place the week of March 25th. The plan is to start on Monday at 8:30 AM and continue through Friday until both rules are completed.  

The meeting location, agenda, and any additional information, including information on how to participate in the meeting, will be published here.  

For a copy of the meeting notice, please message Jessica Foley.  

Unlocking the Power of Legacy Knowledge: A Knowledge Transfer Success Story

In 2023, RCP had the opportunity to collaborate with an Operator on a vital knowledge transfer project, aiming to preserve valuable insights from the client’s retiring staff. Below is a summary of the effort in the form of a case study:  

This case study illuminates how ‘Operator,’ a prominent utility company, effectively confronted the challenge of retaining and leveraging knowledge from departing employees. Faced with the imminent loss of crucial expertise, ‘Operator’ initiated a robust knowledge transfer program. The comprehensive approach encompassed identifying key knowledge domains, fostering collaborative mentorship and documentation processes, revising standard operating procedures, and incorporating regular feedback and evaluation. The outcomes were transformative, resulting in a seamless transition, heightened productivity, enhanced collaboration, significant cost savings, and a newfound competitive advantage. The success of this initiative underscores the critical importance of strategic investment in knowledge preservation for sustained success amidst the dynamism of today’s business environment. The unwavering commitment to knowledge transfer not only ensured a smooth transition during a pivotal retirement but also elevated the company’s overall efficiency and competitiveness. 

To read the full case study and for details of RCP can help facilitate a knowledge transfer effort for you, please contact Jessica Foley.  

Q&A Section

Do you have questions? RCP’s SMEs have the answers. Information will be posted here for questions we often get from clients or discussions we have with regulators regarding interpretations and pending regulatory deadlines.

Q:  If a liquid pipeline operator installs the wrong style of gasket in a flange during a maintenance repair, and then the joint leaks 1 barrel of oil during startup, is that considered a maintenance-related release?  Does the spill need to be reported? 

A: Liquid pipelines report spills larger than 5 gallons, unless the release is “resulting from a pipeline maintenance activity”, in which case the volume threshold is 5 barrels.  To qualify for the higher maintenance-related reporting threshold, the spill must occur as part of the maintenance activity.  Installing the wrong style of gasket is due to operator error and falls under the 5 gallon, not the 5 barrel, reporting threshold. 

Ask the Experts

Do you have a question for the experts at RCP?  Submit your question using this form. If your question is selected for a future newsletter, you will be eligible for a gift of your choice from RCP’s online Store.

Upcoming Deadlines:

  • The deadline to submit written comments in response to PHMSA’s forthcoming NPRM on Pipeline Safety: Safety of Gas Distribution Pipeline and Other Pipeline Safety Initiatives will have 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.  Comments may be filed at Docket No. PHMSA-2021-0046.
  • And as a reminder, the “Stay of Enforcement” does not mean regulators don’t expect work toward getting compliance activities in place can be ignored.

If we can help, contact Jessica Foley.

Did you know?

Expanding American Infrastructure Helps Achieve Climate Progress!

#DidYouKnow that new pipelines could help further reduce emissions? Pipelines are key to safely capturing and storing carbon to keep it away from our air. To advance lower carbon technologies, it’s important that America expands modern infrastructure and accelerates energy innovations instead of delaying technologies and restricting needed infrastructure investments that can help achieve climate progress. 

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 December 2023, PHMSA issued 7 NOAs, 8 NOPVs, and 7 WLs accompanied by $527,934 in proposed fines. Significant proposed fines were attributed to the following code sections: 

  • $225,134 49 CFR 192.605(a) Procedure Manual 
  • $20,400 49 CFR 40.25(a) Drug Testing 
  • $21,200 49 CFR 199.105(e) Drug Tests Required 
  • $65,900 49 CFR 195.452(f)(3) Integrity Management 
  • $35,300 49 CFR 192.355(b)(2) Customer Meters & Regulators 
  • $46,500 49 CFR 192.481(c) Atmospheric Corrosion Control 
  • $63,300 49 CFR 195.428(a) Overpressure Safety Devices 
  • $50,200 49 CFR 195.583(a) Atmospheric Corrosion Control 

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.

2024 PSI Training Schedule

February 20-22, 2024DOT Pipeline Compliance Workshop In-PersonRCP Headquarters
June 11-13, 2024DOT Pipeline Compliance Workshop In-PersonRCP Headquarters
On DemandFundamentals of Pressure TestingeLearning
On DemandType R (Reported-Regulated) Gas Gathering – Annual Reports Filing CourseeLearning

Fundamentals of Pressure Testing

In this 8-hour eLearning course, you will be guided through the processes of designing, planning, executing, and evaluating/validating a pressure test. This course is designed for attendees from a variety of backgrounds including engineers, field techs, and other pipeline professionals. Certificates of completion are available upon successful completion of the knowledge test at the end of the course.
To register for this course, click here!

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


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