DOT Pipeline Compliance News

March 2022 Issue

In This Issue

PHMSA’s Webinar on Natural Gas Emission Reduction & Leak-Prone Pipe

[Docket No. PHMSA-2021-0123]

PHMSA held a public meeting February 17th on their plans for 2022 and the questions they have developed to assess operator plans for reducing or mitigating methane emissions. PHMSA reviewed the requirements of Section 114 and plans for PHMSA and state inspection of the requirements. A recording of the session is posted on PHMSA’s meeting website. Following opening remarks, the webinar addressed the following topics:

  1. Key elements of Section 114;
  2. Significant sources of natural gas (primarily methane) emissions from pipelines;
  3. Discussion of which types of pipeline facilities must comply with each portion of Section 114;
  4. PHMSA and state inspections, including reviews of a pipeline operator’s programs and procedures to reduce methane emissions;
  5. Inspection topics related to methane reduction and leak-prone pipes;
  6. General review of how operators’ programs and procedures will be inspected; and,
  7. The timelines for actions required by Section 114.

Final Rulemaking submitted to OMB

The final rule “Pipeline Safety: Safety of Gas Transmission Pipelines, Repair Criteria, Integrity Management Improvements, Cathodic Protection, Management of Change, and Other Related Amendments” (otherwise known as RIN2) has been transmitted to the federal Office of Management and Budget for review.  This review can take up to 90 days to complete, but it does not always require that much time.  The DOT’s significant rulemaking website lists May 11, 2022 when they expect to publish the final rule in the federal register.

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NAPSR Updates State Compendium

The National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives (NAPSR) has released their Compendium 2022. The Compendium highlights areas where actions have been taken at the state level that go beyond federal pipeline safety regulatory requirements. Click here to see the Compendium 2022.

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 January 2022, PHMSA issued 6 WLs, 9 NOAs, and 7 NOPVs accompanied by $900,200 in proposed fines. Significant proposed fines were attributed to the following code sections:

  • $70,500 – 49 CFR 192.481(b) – Atmospheric Corrosion Control: Monitoring
  • $99,000 – 49 CFR 192.605(a) – Procedure Manuals
  • $31,700 – 49 CFR 192.745(a) – Valve Maintenance: Transmission Lines
  • $22,400 – 49 CFR 195.446(c)(2) – Control Room Management: Verifications
  • $32,800 – 49 CFR 195.446(g)(1)(vi) – Control Room Management: SCADA Systems
  • $75,600 – 49 CFR 195.412(a) – ROW Inspections of Crossings & Navigable Waters
  • $81,500 – 49 CFR 195.420(b) – Valve Maintenance
  • $38,000 – 49 CFR 192.619(a)(1)(ii) – MAOP
  • $28,300 – 49 CFR 192.705(c) – Transmission Lines: Patrolling
  • $45,200 – 49 CFR 192.706 – Transmission Lines: Leakage Surveys
  • $138,100 – 49 CFR 192.706(a) – Transmission Lines: Leakage Surveys
  • $195,700 – 49 CFR 192.947(d) – Recordkeeping: P&M Measure Process
  • $41,400 – 49 CFR 192.605(b)(2) – Procedure Manuals

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.

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 moment and give credit where credit is due. Your staff has done an exceptional job in providing training and support for us the past few years, and most recently today and this evening. [RCP] helped our Southern Arizona Division with reviewing and assisting with a Hydrotest that went on until late [your] time. I’m very impressed with your service and system. Greatly appreciated!”  – Southwest Gas

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


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