DOT Pipeline Compliance News

May 2019 Issue

In This Issue

PHMSA Stay of Enforcement for API Specification 5L

PHMSA currently incorporates by reference the 45th edition of API Specification 5L “Specification for Line Pipe” in parts 192 and 195.  API Spec 5L is the primary manufacturing specification for seamless and welded steel pipe for use in both gas and hazardous liquid pipeline transportation systems. API recently issued a 46th edition of this standard in April 2018, effective May 1, 2019. This new edition includes slightly more stringent pipe end-straightness tolerance requirements and clarifications on how to define and measure end-squareness. 

On May 1, 2019, PHMSA issued a notice which stays the requirements of API Spec 5L, 45th  edition, provided that the 46th  edition is used in its place.  Pipe manufacturers can use the 46th edition now, and they won’t have to wait for PHMSA to officially incorporate it by reference.  

For a copy of PHMSA’s Notice, contact Jessica Foley.

DOT Final Rule on Implementing Drug Testing Program

On April 23, 2019, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) adopted changes to its drug testing regulations to make the different drug testing programs more consistent. For the pipeline industry, the change was to the definition of a prohibited drug in 49 CFR 199.3. The new definition is now “any of the substances specified in 49 CFR part 40.”  DOT also changed Appendix H in 49 CFR 40 which is the form PHMSA requires large operators (more than 50 covered persons) to report testing results. These changes are effective as of April 23, 2019.

For a copy of DOT’s Final Rule posted in the Federal Register, contact Jessica Foley.

PHMSA Revision Request for National Pipeline Mapping System Program

[Docket No. PHMSA-2014-0092]

PHMSA announced that their information collection request for the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS) Program will be forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. This request would increase the geospatial data that operators of gas transmission pipelines, hazardous liquid pipelines, and liquefied natural gas facilities submit to NPMS. On June 22, 2016, PHMSA published a notice and requested comments on proposed revisions to the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS) Program. During the comment period, PHMSA received several comments on ways to improve this data collection and to consider a phased timeline to collect data. PHMSA published this notice to address the comments received, to notify the public of proposed revisions to this information collection, and to announce that they are requesting a 3-year approval of this information collection from OMB.

PHMSA determined that further research is needed to develop the necessary safeguards and procedures for collecting the following data: maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP/MOP); percentage of SMYS (specified minimum yield strength); whether a hazardous liquid pipeline segment could affect a drinking water Unusually Sensitive Area; pump and compressor station locations; mainline block valve locations; and gas storage fields. If collected, these elements would be designated as Sensitive Security Information (SSI) and have been removed from the proposal pending further research.

PHMSA also released an updated draft 2019 NPMS Operator Standards Manual.

Submit written comments by May 13, 2019 via the E-Gov Website.  Identify the docket number PHMSA–2014–0092 at the beginning of your comments. For a copy of PHMSA’s Notice from the Federal Register outlining the revisions and phased timeline to collect data, contact Jessica Foley.

PHMSA ADB-2019-01 Advisory Bulletin Pipeline Damage from River Flooding

[Docket No. PHMSA-2019-0047]

PHMSA issued an advisory bulletin to remind all owners and operators of gas and hazardous liquid pipelines of the potential for damage to pipeline facilities caused by severe flooding and actions that operators should consider taking to ensure the integrity of pipelines in the event of flooding, river scour, and river channel migration. Section 192.613(a) of the pipeline safety regulations (49 CFR parts 190– 199) states that ‘‘each operator shall have a procedure for continuing surveillance of its facilities to determine and take appropriate action concerning changes in class location, failures, leakage history, corrosion, substantial changes in cathodic protection requirements, and other unusual operating and maintenance conditions.” For a copy of the PHMSA’s Advisory Bulletin (ADB-2019-01), contact Jessica Foley.

PHMSA ADB-2019-02 on Potential for Damage to Pipeline Facilities Caused by Earth Movement and Other Geological Hazards

[Docket No. PHMSA-2019-0087]

PHMSA issued an advisory bulletin to remind owners and operators of gas and hazardous liquid pipelines of the potential for damage to pipeline facilities caused by earth movement from both landslides and subsidence in variable, steep, and rugged terrain and for varied geological conditions. These conditions can pose a threat to the integrity of pipeline facilities if those threats are not identified and mitigated. For a copy of the PHMSA’s Advisory Bulletin (ADB-2019-02), contact Jessica Foley.

Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee Meeting Notice

[Docket No. PHMSA-2016-0136]

The GPAC meeting that was previously scheduled for January 8-10, is now meeting on June 25th from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (ET) and on June 26th from 8:30 a.m. to noon (ET). They will meet to discuss the gathering line component of the proposed rule titled ‘‘Safety of Gas Transmission and Gathering Pipelines.’’

The meeting will be held at the U.S. Department of Transportation, Media Center, West Building, 1200 New Jersey Ave SE, Washington, DC. PHMSA is keeping the public registration from the previously scheduled meeting in January. Therefore, seating is already at capacity in the Media Center.

Additional onsite registrants will be placed in a satellite location within DOT. Participants in the satellite location will view the proceedings on video and will have the opportunity to provide comments to the committee in-person. The meeting will also be webcast.

Information for accessing the webcast, meeting agenda and additional information can be found on the meeting page. For information about the meetings, contact Tewabe Asebe, at (202)366–5523, or

PHMSA Debrief on CAAP Project for Material Strength

May 10, 2019

PHMSA invites you to a debrief of the Competitive Academic Agreement Program (CAAP) project, “Bayesian Network Inference and Information Fusion for Accurate Pipe Strength and Toughness Estimation” on May 10th from 1:00-2:30 PM EDT. 

Instructions on connecting to the meeting:
US: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 646 876 9923
Meeting ID: 419 543 932

Abstract Excerpt: Pipeline infrastructure and its safety are critical for the recovering of U.S. economy and our standard of living. Accurate pipe material strength estimation is critical for the integrity and risk assessment of aging pipeline infrastructure systems. Existing techniques focus on the single modality deterministic estimation of pipe strength and ignore inhomogeneousity and uncertainties. In view of this, this project is a novel information fusion framework using multimodality diagnosis for pipe materials for accurate probabilistic strength and toughness estimation under uncertainties.

Questions: Contact Joshua Arnold at (202)366-6085 or

AGA White Paper for Natural Gas Systems

[Released April 8, 2019]

The American Gas Association (AGA) published a white paper, “Skills and Experience for Effectively Designing Natural Gas Systems,” that provides guidance to operators on workforce knowledge, skills and communications. The report details a tiered approach to developing a foundational understanding of natural gas systems, improving knowledge about operator-specific processes and procedures, and building technical knowledge. The report also highlights the importance of pipeline safety management systems to promote safety awareness and cooperation company-wide. Additional information can be found on AGA’s website.  

One Call Concepts Withdraws from the State of Texas (Lone Star 811)

After nearly 26 years operating in Texas, One Call Concepts (OCC) has notified the One Call Board of Texas, the Lone Star 811 employees and all other affected parties that they will cease operating Lone Star 811 on July 31, 2019. OCC intends to work with TX811 to ensure a smooth transition. If you have questions, please contact the Lone Star 811 transition team at (410)782-2045. A full copy of OCC’s announcement and explanation for their decision to withdraw can be found on the OCC website.

ASME Pipeline Geo-Environmental Design and Geohazard Management

[Second Edition, 2019]

ASME has released the Second Edition of “Pipeline Geo-Environmental Design and Geohazard Management.” The management of pipeline geohazards is a topic of continuing technical development as the industry plans, designs, constructs and operates pipelines in increasingly rugged terrain.

At 800 pages, this Second Edition is a considerable expansion from the 2008 ASME publication, delving in more depth of previously addressed topics as well as taking on numerous additional topics. New topics include chapters on data management, erosion control, permafrost and seismic considerations.  This book’s comprehensive treatment of pipeline geohazards includes:

  • Terrain analysis for corridor selection using data generation, integration and visualization techniques
  • Geotechnical engineering and pipeline construction interface considerations
  • Trenched and elevated river crossings
  • Trenchless techniques for pipeline construction
  • Practical overview for addressing several critical pipeline geohazard mechanisms, namely: buoyancy control; erosion and sediment control; pipelines in permafrost and the assessment and mitigation of seismic geohazards
  • State-of-practice overview of quantitative geohazard assessment, monitoring and mitigation of various mechanisms
  • Bibliography of related publications from prominent pipeline conferences

The book is intended to serve as a reference for operating pipeline companies; specialized pipeline engineering and geotechnical consultants active in either the design and construction of new pipelines or the integrity management of operating pipelines; and for graduate-level studies and professional training. Books can be ordered online from the ASME website.

Fundamentals of Pipeline Operations Workshop

June 26-27, 2019

Join us June 26-27, 2019 in Houston at our corporate office and dedicated training facility for this new workshop on the fundamentals of pipeline operations. This 2-day course is designed to give a comprehensive overview of gas and liquid energy transmission pipelines and how they are operated and maintained. It is appropriate for both technical and non-technical personnel who are new to the energy transmission pipeline industry, as well as those who need a broader understanding of pipeline operations and management in general. The course walks through the practical things that a typical pipeline company’s operations organization does on a regular basis to operate and maintain the pipeline system as a whole. Course topics include:

  • Components of a pipeline system (types of pipe, coatings, tanks, valves, pumps, compressors, pressure vessels, pig traps, meters, instrumentation, control systems / SCADA)
  • Operations activities (starting / stopping, batching, managing receipts and deliveries, measurement, monitoring, pressure control, leak detection)
  • Inspection and Maintenance (valves, ROWs, tanks, pumps, compressors, instrumentation, pigging, cathodic protection)
  • Repair (in-service repair techniques, welding, OOS repairs / replacements)
  • Integrity Management (ILI, Pressure Tests, Direct Assessment), including assessment processes, analysis, follow-ups
  • Emergency Response (planning, organization / ICS, drills, response)
  • Public Awareness / Damage Prevention / One Calls

Each attendee will receive the presentation as well as applicable handouts in a hardcopy notebook.

The course involves many hands-on demonstrations and examples using RCP’s in-house Pipeline Flow Loop*. To promote an optimal learning environment, class size will be limited. To register for our workshop, click here.

*RCP’s in-house Pipeline Flow Loop is an engineering marvel (!). It is a working 2” diameter pipeline system incorporating many of the components of a transmission pipeline system including state-of-the-art SCADA control system and instrumentation for flow, pressure, temperature, and volume, as well as automated valves, pig traps, variable speed pump, and more. It also incorporates clear pipe segments so that students can see a pig in operation, see phase separation as it occurs, and understand the importance of elevation change. It occupies 2 walls outside our training room. Students can monitor and control the pipeline from the training room (“control room”), and then step into the hall to see the pipeline in action.

2019 Summer Industry Conference Schedule

TGA Operations and Management Conference
July 9-12, 2019
Embassy Suites | San Marcos, TX
Registration opening soon.

SGA Natural Gas Connect
July 15-17, 2019
J.W. Marriott Hill Country Resort & Spa | San Antonio, TX

RCP is a proud sponsor and exhibitor of this new conference with a new name. Also known as NGC, this new conference will offer more than 30 roundtables, opening up limitless cross-learning opportunities. It will also help bridge any gaps in your business outlook and connect you with other engaged peers in the industry.

LGA Pipeline Safety Conference
July 29 – August 1, 2019
Astor Crowne Plaza | New Orleans, LA

RCP is once again a proud sponsor and exhibitor at this year’s conference, which has been referred to as the “Premier Pipeline Safety Conference.”

APGA Annual Conference
July 28-31, 2019
Stowe Mountain Lodge | Stowe, Vermont
A conference for public natural gas professionals and industry experts.

Western Regional Gas Conference
August 20 & 21, 2019
Tempe Mission Palms Hotel | Tempe, Arizona

The Western Regional Gas Conference provides a forum for the free exchange of information between natural gas companies and their state and federal regulators, and with associated industry organizations, consultants, manufacturers and vendors that serve the pipeline industry.

Job Opening – Executive Director of the Pipeline Safety Trust

Carl Weimer, the executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust since its inception in 2003, has announced his intention to retire at the end of this year.  The board of the PST is actively seeking a replacement, and is accepting resumes until June 12, 2019.  Additional information can be found here.

On a personal note, I have known and respected Carl for many years now, and he will be a very tough act to follow.  In addition to the posted job description, I’ll add a few additional requirements from my perspective:

  • Skin thickness must be similar to vulcanized rubber
  • Must be able to listen politely and respond civilly to all types of people in all types of situations
  • Must be willing to answer the same questions and explain the same issues, ad nauseum, from reporters and news organizations after every pipeline incident
  • Must be able to testify before congress and respond to questions from both sides of the aisle, while biting tongue

And lastly

  • Must be willing to do a lot of work for a little money

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


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