DOT Pipeline Compliance News

June 2006 Issue

In This Issue

Conducting Activities in the Vicinity of Offshore Pipelines

On June 5, 2006, the Minerals Management Service issued Safety Alert No. 240 concerning activities in the vicinity of offshore pipelines. The text of the safety alert is given below:

Please be aware that some pipelines have shifted from their original as-built location as a result of 2005 hurricane activity in the Gulf of Mexico. Prior to conducting any bottom disturbing activities around pipelines, take precautions such as, but not limited to, contacting appropriate companies for accurate pipeline coordinates or use appropriate survey equipment to obtain exact pipeline locations. The Minerals Management Service (MMS) updates and maintains a database that contains pipeline “as-built” locations. These data points are accessed and used by industry, the public, and other government agencies. The intent of this information sharing is to minimize the possibility of pipelines interfering with other users of the OCS. The MMS recommends that lessees and right-of-way holders provide data immediately to MMS, Office of Field Operations, Pipeline Section, on pipeline as-built locations once any deviation from the original pipeline as-built route is discovered.

For more information, contact:
Elizabeth Komiskey with the MMS at (504) 736-2418.

PHMSA Administrator Confirmed

On Friday, May 26, the Senate confirmed Admiral Thomas J. Barrett as the Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Barrett graduated from Coast Guard Officer Candidate School, Yorktown, Va. and was commissioned in January 1969. He served first as a deck officer, including aboard the USCG Cutter Chase (WHEC718) with deployment to Vietnam. He then served on the 13th Coast Guard District staff in Seattle, Wash. Following duty in the Claims and Litigation Division, Office of Chief Counsel, and Project Staff for Outer Continental Shelf Safety, Office of Marine Safety, Security and Environmental Protection, Barrett reported for the first of several tours in Alaska, eventually moving up to the post of Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Support Center, home to nine commands on Kodiak Island and the largest operational Coast Guard base in the world. He was stationed throughout the Gulf Coast of Alaska, where he commanded the Seventeenth Coast Guard District and served as Commander, Naval Forces Alaska. Barrett directed USCG operations in the North Pacific, including the Gulf of Alaska, the Eastern Bering Sea, and the Arctic Ocean. In 2002, the Alaska State Legislature officially honored his contributions to the state. He has also served as Deputy Commander of Coast Guard Maintenance and Logistics Command, Atlantic and Special Assistant to the Chief Counsel.

The admiral’s civilian and military education includes a law degree from George Washington University, and graduation in residence from the Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pa. His personal decorations include the Legion of Merit with three devices, Meritorious Service Medal with two devices, Coast Guard Commendation Medals with two devices, the Coast Guard Achievement Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, and numerous other personal and unit decorations.

Washington State – Land Use Near Existing Pipelines Report

A draft report regarding land use around existing pipelines in Washington state was recently published by the Roundtable Group. Two key contributors of note include the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission and the Pipeline Safety Trust. The main focus of the report is to capture the types of communications necessary during the planning stages of land development when existing pipelines are located within close proximity. Some of the comments include recommendations for establishing Consultation Zone Buffers in which developers would be required to communicate with pipeline operators located within 660 feet of the planned development activity.

Before issuing any permit that involves grade modification, excavation, or additional loading of the soil on property where a transmission pipeline easement is located, or if a transmission pipeline easement is within the designated consultation zone (e.g. six hundred and sixty (660) feet), the permit applicant must submit a detailed description of the proposed activity, including a map, diagram or depiction indicating the location of the proposed development activity and all transmission pipeline easements (or rights-of-way). A complete application for any development permit within the consultation zone must include written verification from the applicant that:

  1. The applicant has contacted the pipeline operator and has provided the pipeline operator with documentation detailing the proposed activity.
  2. The pipeline operator has reviewed the documents describing the proposed activity for compatibility with safe operation of the pipeline.

Some of the recommendations in this report for affected local government authorities include:

  • Include pipeline location on all zoning, building and public works maps
  • Request pipeline operator input in any comprehensive plan or rezone
  • Require subdivision plans to be reviewed by affected pipeline operators
  • Include pipelines as part of the State Environmental Protection Act checklist
  • Require proof of utility locate call before issuing building/grading permits for parcels within some range of the pipeline
  • Setbacks and building code specifications

To view the report and the comments submitted, visit the following website: Round Table Associates

Will your SPCC Plan pass an EPA inspection based on the new SPCC Inspectors’ Guidance document?

RCP can conduct a gap analysis of your current SPCC Plan and provide updates and recommendations based on the new SPCC Guidance for Regional Inspectors that was published Dec. 2, 2005. The new guidance document includes more detail than is in many of the plans in use today.

Technical Advisory Committee Meetings – Workshops

Dockets: PHMSA-98-4470 / PHMSA-2004-18938 / PHMSA-2004-18584

PHMSA will hold public meetings of the Technical Pipeline Safety Standards Committee (TPSSC) and Technical Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Safety Standards Committee (THLPSSC), and 2 public workshops, on June 26-28, 2006. PHMSA will hold a half day public workshop on Hazardous Liquid Low Stress Pipelines to solicit comments on a risk-based approach to protecting unusually sensitive areas from risks associated with low stress lines. PHMSA also will conduct an all-day public workshop to discuss the effectiveness of pipeline control room operations and to obtain comments on ways to enhance the effectiveness of pipeline control room operations and on findings from the Controller Certification Project (CCERT). Lastly, the Committees will discuss regulatory issues and vote on two rulemaking proposals: integrity management program changes and clarifications, and design and construction standards to reduce internal corrosion in gas transmission pipelines.

The dates and times are as follows:

  • Monday, June 26 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. – THLPSSC and Public Workshop on Hazardous Liquid Low Stress Pipelines
  • Tuesday, June 27 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. – THLPSSC/TPSSC Public Workshop on Effectiveness of Pipeline Control Room Operations
  • Wednesday, June 28 from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. – THLPSSC Meeting to vote on the NPRM to address integrity management modifications
  • Wednesday, June 28 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. – Joint meetings of the THLPSSC and TPSSC
  • Wednesday, June 28 from 5:00 p.m. to 6 p.m. – TPSSC meeting to vote on the NPRM to address internal corrosion in gas transmission pipelines

The meetings will be held at the following location:

Hilton Alexandria Old Town
1767 King Street, Alexandria, Virginia, 22314.

Telephone: 1-703-837-0440
Fax 1-703-837-0454

Attendees staying at the hotel must make reservations by Friday, May 26. The phone number for reservations at the hotel is 1-800-HILTONS (445-8667). The hotel will give priority to the Committee members and State Pipeline Safety Representatives for rooms blocked under “DOT Technical Advisory Committee Meetings.”

B31Q Status

The new pipeline industry standard on operator qualification, ASME B31Q, has been approved and is awaiting the final procedural review from the ASME board (which should just be a formality). It should be published this summer. Once the standard is published, the Office of Pipeline Safety is expected to issue a modified Operator Qualification rule that incorporates B31Q. A new standing committee on B31Q will also be established within ASME. Persons interesting in serving on that committee should contact Gerry Eisenberg at

Kudos to Daron Moore with El Paso who chaired the ASME committee that developed this standard. Daron has served selflessly through endless committee meetings, conference calls, private lobbying efforts, etc. to create this standard. It has been a long, difficult, and occasionally adversarial process. The pipeline industry owes him thanks for a job well done.

Public Awareness Program Submittal

Pipeline operators will be required to submit their public awareness programs to PHMSA. Exactly how these programs are to be submitted, however, is still undetermined. According to PHMSA, they plan to use the following approach:

“PHMSA will publish an Advisory Bulletin in the Federal Register. PHMSA will prominently post the Advisory Bulletin on its web site and request that industry trade associations and State pipeline safety agencies help ensure all operators are aware of the Advisory Bulletin. PHMSA strongly encourages operators to use the existing Online Data Entry System to submit written programs.

For operators unfamiliar with ODES, the system currently allows operators to submit various reports required by pipeline safety regulations. In order to ensure the integrity of data submitted to ODES, each operator must have an Operator Identification Number (Op ID) and PIN. Using ODES will reduce the potential for human error and increase the efficiency of the submittal process. Operators can access ODES, request an Op ID, and request a PIN at: Operators will not be able to submit public awareness programs through ODES until the submittal date specified in the upcoming Advisory Bulletin. Instructions for operators who decide not to submit programs through ODES will be included in the Advisory Bulletin.”

Summary of PHMSA Enforcement Actions

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has prepared a summary of their enforcement actions from January 1, 2000 through March 31, 2006. This document reveals PHMSA’s increased emphasis on enforcement actions and penalties, in accordance with their multi-year roadmap for strengthening enforcement, called the Enforcement Program Performance Plan. PHMSA has developed a new enforcement tracking system: SMART (Safety Monitoring And Reporting Tool). Since 2002, PHMSA has added 2 enforcement officers and 5 attorneys dedicated to pipeline safety enforcement. While PHMSA has strengthened enforcement across the board, they have a specific strategy to deal severely with significant non-compliances and repeat offenses of any kind. The numbers speak for themselves. The latest 3 years of proposed penalties are:

  • 2003 – 32 cases for a total of $1,010,000
  • 2004 – 63 cases for a total of $2,220,000
  • 2005 – 76 cases for a total of $4,191,000

The full document can be found below:

The Role of Pipelines and Pipeline Research

The Pipeline Research Council International has posted a new report on the role of energy pipelines and research, entitled: The Role of Energy Pipelines and Research in the United States: Sustaining the Viability and Productivity of a National Asset. Continued pipeline research will be needed to ensure the safety and efficiency of this vital national asset in future years. Authored by Cheryl Trench and Tom Miesner, the report:

“surveys the contributions of oil and gas pipelines in meeting the Nation’s energy needs, the critical role that research played in making those contributions possible up until now, and how research will be necessary in the future to meet the challenges facing pipelines.”

Even though industry funding for pipeline research has increased steadily each year, sharp reductions in DOT, DOE, and FERC funding have reduced the overall level of pipeline research funding to about one half of the level in 2003. This report provides an invaluable introduction to the issues surrounding pipeline research and funding needs.

You can download it here:

Hazardous Liquid Annual Report 7000-1.1

PHMSA has revised the instructions for the hazardous liquid pipeline annual report for 7000-1.1, to eliminate confusion that has lead to errors in previous reports. Specific areas of concern in previous reports, which now have more explicit instructions, include “actions taken” in response to integrity inspections, and “completed assessments”. The annual report form and revised instructions can be found here:

Need to Update Your Current Operator Qualification Program?

We have the expertise to update your current operator qualification program to satisfy the upcoming regulation change and inspection protocols. For more information on how RCP can support your ongoing OQ Program needs.

Petroleum Gathering Lines – Rulemaking Schedule

RIN 2137-AD98

This Rulemaking would establish limited safety rules for certain rural petroleum gathering lines that could affect high consequence areas, including populated areas, navigable waterways, and areas unusually sensitive to pipeline spills. Because rural petroleum gathering lines and low stress lines are now exempt from all pipeline safety rules, except in Gulf of Mexico inlets, the rulemaking would improve public confidence in the safety of these pipelines.

The following schedule has been developed by PHMSA for the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking:

  • To OST: 07/20/2006
  • To OMB: 08/23/2006
  • OMB Clearance: 11/23/2006
  • Publication Date: 11/30/2006
  • End of Comment Period: 01/31/2007

API/AOPL submit recommendations for High Volume, Low Stress liquid pipelines

The API and AOPL have submitted comments to PHMSA regarding currently unregulated pipelines that operate less than 20% SMYS and are located in Unusually Sensitive Areas. If this proposal is accepted and incorporated into final rulemaking, operators of “Regulated Low Stress Pipelines” will have to develop a written program for minimizing risk of a release from the pipeline, or include the pipeline in the operator’s Integrity Management Program (§195.452). The following are a few highlights of the proposed changes.

A Regulated Low Pressure Pipeline is defined as a pipeline with a diameter greater than 8 5/8”, operates at 20% or less specified minimum yield strength (SMYS), is located off owner/operator property, and is located within a Ľ mile of an USA(s).

Operators shall identify all Regulated Low Pressure Pipelines within their operations within one year after the effective date of this rule. Operators must complete implementation of the program required by this Subpart within 5 years after the effective date of this rule.

An operator must include in the program:

Identification of the affected pipelines:
An operator must identify all Regulated Low Pressure Pipelines.

Reporting Accidents and Safety Related Conditions:
An accident report is required for all failures of Regulated Low Pressure Pipelines of this Subpart. Reporting shall be consistent with the requirements of Subpart B of this Part.

Corrosion Control:
The program must include corrosion control requirements consistent with the requirements of Subpart H of this Part. The program must analyze available information regrading the threat of corrosion and take measures to mitigate corrosion where necessary. Such measures may include, but are not limited to, a maintenance pigging program and/or a chemical treatment program.

Inspect the pipeline using in-line inspection tools, direct assessment, pressure testing, or commensurate technology to assess the pipeline segment. The assessment will occur as often as necessary, but not more than every 5 years, unless the operator can justify via a valid engineering analysis to extend the interval beyond 5 years.

Leak Detection:
The operator must have a means to detect leaks on the covered pipelines. The program must evaluate the capability of the leak detection means and modify them, as necessary, to protect the USA. The evaluation must consider the following factors: length and size of pipeline, type of product carried, swiftness of leak detection, location of nearest response personnel and equipment, and leak history.

Line Markers:
All regulated low pressure pipelines will be clearly marked in accordance with section 195.410.

Damage Prevention:
Operators must put in place basic damage prevention practices, such as registering these facilities with one-call organizations and excavation monitoring.

Training for Abnormal Operating Conditions:
Operator personnel must be trained to recognize and respond to abnormal operating conditions.

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