DOT Pipeline Compliance News

June 2022 Issue

In This Issue

PHMSA Final Rule: Valve Installation and Minimum Rupture Detection Standards

[Docket No. PHMSA-2013-0255]

In case you missed this article in the April edition of our newsletter, we felt that it was important enough to run again. Operators must develop and incorporate procedures for implementing these requirements into their Operations and Maintenance Manuals prior to October 12, 2022.

PHMSA is revising the Federal Pipeline Safety Regulations applicable to most newly constructed and entirely replaced onshore gas transmission, Type A gas gathering, and hazardous liquid pipelines with diameters of 6 inches or greater. This rule has been in development since two high profile incidents occurred in 2010 – PG&E’s rupture in San Bruno, CA and failure of Enbridge’s Line 6 near Marshall, MI. Both events resulted in NTSB targeting recommendations to PHMSA requiring ROVs/ASVs on all new and existing transmission and liquids pipelines.

In the revised regulations, PHMSA requires operators of these lines to install rupture-mitigation valves (i.e., remote control or automatic shut-off valves) or alternative equivalent technologies and establishes minimum performance standards for those valves’ operation to prevent or mitigate the public safety and environmental consequences of pipeline ruptures. This final rule establishes requirements for rupture-mitigation valve spacing, maintenance and inspection, and risk analysis. The final rule also requires operators of gas and hazardous liquid pipelines to contact 9-1-1 emergency call centers immediately upon notification of a potential rupture and conduct post-rupture investigations and reviews. Operators must also incorporate lessons learned from such investigations and reviews into operators’ personnel training and qualifications programs, and design, construction, testing, maintenance, operations, and emergency procedure manuals and specifications.

Highlights of the rule are:

  • The new rules apply to most Type A gas gathering, gas transmission (with limited exceptions), and hazardous liquid pipelines, including a small subset of rural gathering which crosses bodies of water greater than 100 feet wide.
  • Entirely replaced is a new definition for gas and liquids and is generally inclusive of two (2) or more miles of pipe replaced within a contiguous 5-mile segment during a 24-month period.
  • Rupture-mitigation valve (RMV) means an automatic shut-off valve (ASV) or a remote control valve (RCV) that a pipeline operator uses to minimize the volume of gas released from the pipeline and to mitigate the consequences of a rupture. No matter which option is selected, the pressures upstream and downstream must be monitored. There is a mechanism to seek alternative technologies, e.g. manual valves with no guarantee of approval.
  • The rule creates new minimum valve spacing and defines other locations where valve installation will be required.
  • Rule establishes minimum safety performance standards for the identification of ruptures, pipeline segment isolation, and other mitigative actions for pipelines on which Rupture Mitigation Valves (RMVs) or alternate technology are installed.
  • Responding to an identified rupture by closing RMVs, to provide complete valve shut-off and segment isolation as soon as practicable but no more than 30 minutes after rupture identification.
  • Performing post-event reviews of any incidents/accidents or other failure events involving the closure of RMVs to ensure the performance objectives are met and to apply any lessons learned system-wide
  • Performing maintenance on RMVs
  • Remediation measures for repair or replacement of inoperable RMVs, including an RMV that cannot maintain shut-off, as soon as practicable
  • Update emergency plans to reflect new requirements for covered pipelines

The NTSB has called out PHMSA’s failure to include all existing pipelines and stated this rule would not have been effective in mitigating the consequences of the failure in San Bruno. So, it is unknown at this time whether the Board will ultimately consider PHMSA’s actions acceptable or unacceptable.

Effective Date: October 5, 2022

For a copy of this Final Rule, all of you Really Cool People can contact Jessica Foley.

Correction to Gas Gathering Reporting Rule Re: Offshore Gas Gathering

On November 15, 2021, PHMSA published a final rule titled “Safety of Gas Gathering Pipelines: Extension of Reporting Requirements, Regulation of Large, High-Pressure Lines, and Other Related Amendments” (86 FR 63266) amending the Federal pipeline safety regulations (49 CFR parts 190-199) to introduce, among other things, incident and annual reporting requirements for previously unregulated Types C and R onshore gas gathering pipelines. The preamble to the Final Rule explicitly disclaimed amendment of then-existing part 191 reporting and part 192 safety requirements pertaining to offshore gas gathering pipelines. The Final Rule became effective on May 16, 2022.  But, in amending then-existing regulatory language pertaining to incident (§ 191.15) and annual (§ 191.17) reporting requirements to provide that regulated onshore gas gathering pipelines must submit annual and incident reports, PHMSA inadvertently omitted language requiring offshore gas gathering pipelines to continue to submit the same consistent with longstanding requirements. PHMSA is now issuing corrections amending §§ 191.15(a)(1) and 191.17(a)(1) consistent with statements in the preamble to the Final Rule. PHMSA has reviewed the current versions of each of DOT Forms PHMSA F 7100.2 (incident reporting), and PHMSA F 7100.2-1 (annual reporting), and their respective instructions, and confirmed that each form continues to reference offshore gathering lines and therefore no conforming revisions to those forms will be necessary following codification of the corrections in this notice.  The referenced forms are available on PHMSA’s website here.

PHMSA Updated Advisory Bulletin ADB 2022-01

[Docket No. PHMSA-2022-0063]

PHMSA issued an updated advisory bulletin to remind owners and operators of gas and hazardous liquid pipelines, including supercritical carbon dioxide pipelines, of the potential for damage to those pipeline facilities caused by earth movement in variable, steep, and rugged terrain and terrain with varied or changing subsurface geological conditions.

Changing weather patterns, including increased rainfall and higher temperatures, may impact soil stability in areas that have historically been stable. These phenomena can pose a threat to the integrity of pipeline facilities if those threats are not identified and mitigated. Owners and operators should consider monitoring geological and environmental conditions, including changing weather patterns, in proximity to their facilities.

For a copy of this Advisory Bulletin (ADB-2022-01) contact Jessica Foley.

Did you know?

API recently announced a new partnership to deliver on the significant habitat enhancement potential of an estimated 12 million acres of pipeline rights-of-way and facilities. Designed to advance ongoing conservation and community engagement efforts, the partnership supports U.S. pipeline operators as they enhance and accelerate robust conservation programs.

As the industry continues to advance conservation, the 2022 ROW Sustainability Summit hosted at Penn State University from June 28-30th provides a unique opportunity for energy companies and other partners to increase awareness and understanding of the economic and ecosystem benefits of Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM), as well as garner support and build recognition across both internal and external stakeholder platforms for vegetation management best management practices. You can learn more about the summit and register here.

Client Feedback

RCP has a tradition of creating and sustaining trusted partnerships with the companies we serve. This has translated into long-term relationships that are based not only on the quality and scope of the work we provide, but also on the manner in which we provide it. We routinely hear from our clients with positive feedback like this quote below:

“I just wanted to take a second to say thank you for taking the time to publish this newsletter.  I always seem to find at least one interesting topic that is real and relevant to what I am doing.” -Southern Company

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 April 2022, PHMSA issued 4 WLs, 11 NOAs, and 9 NOPVs accompanied by $367,747 in proposed fines. Significant proposed fines were attributed to the following code sections:

  • $22,400  – 49 CFR 195.446(c)(3) – Maximum Operating Pressure
  • $22,400  – 49 CFR 195.446(e)(3) – Qualification Program
  • $218,647 – 49 CFR 195.403(c) – General Provisions
  • $12,300  – 49 CFR 195.406(a)(5) – Recordkeeping
  • $36,200  – 49 CFR 195.452(l)(3) – National Registry of Operators
  • $27,900  – 49 CFR 195.452(l)(3) – Control Room Alarm Management
  • $27,900  – 49 CFR 195.452(l)(3) – Control Room Training

Please note:

  1. Pipeline operators may disagree in whole or in part with each proposed violation cited by PHMSA. 
  2. Proposed Civil Penalties (PCP) may be reduced or eliminated before an enforcement action becomes final.
  3. A Corrective Action Order (CAO) usually addresses urgent situations arising out of an accident, spill, or other significant, immediate, or imminent safety or environmental concern.
  4. A Notice of Amendment (NOA) is frequently a result of a difference of opinion regarding written procedure requirements.
  5. 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.
  6. A Notice of Probable Violation (NOPV) is not proof that a violation actually occurred.
  7. A Proposed Compliance Order (PCO) frequently documents actions the pipeline operator already planned to do.
  8. 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.

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


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