DOT Pipeline Compliance News

May 2023 Issue

In This Issue

PHMSA Issues NPRM for Gas Pipeline Leak Detection and Repair

[Docket No. PHMSA-2021-0039]

PHMSA has issued a new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) intended to reduce methane emissions from new and existing pipelines, including gas transmission, distribution, regulated gas gathering (Types A, B, C and offshore), underground natural gas storage facilities, and LNG facilities. 

Among the proposed amendments for Part 192-regulated gas pipelines are:

  • New definitions, including leaks or hazardous leaks,
  • Expanded leakage survey and patrolling requirements,
  • Performance standards for advanced leak detection programs,
  • Leak grading and repair criteria with mandatory repair timelines,
  • Requirements for mitigation of emissions from blowdowns,
  • Pressure relief device design, configuration, and maintenance requirements,
  • Expanded hazardous leak detection for pressure testing,
  • Clarified requirements for investigating failures, and
  • Expanded reporting requirements.

Comments will be due 60 days after this NPRM is published in the Federal Register. Submit comments through the E-Gov Website for Docket #PHMSA-2021-0039.

For a copy of the NPRM or to discuss how RCP can help prepare for the eventual finalization of this NPRM, contact Jessica Foley.

PHMSA Notice of Limited Enforcement Discretion for New and Replaced Onshore Gas Transmission Pipelines (RIN 2)

On April 17, 2023, PHMSA issued a Notice of Limited Enforcement Discretion for the recently published Safety of Gas Transmission Pipelines: Repair Criteria, Integrity Management Improvements, Cathodic Protection, Management of Change, and Other Related Amendments, or “RIN 2.”  This enforcement discretion pertains to new and replaced onshore gas transmission pipelines and expands on the December 6, 2022, notice of enforcement discretion for existing transmission lines that were in service on the date of the Rule publication, August 24, 2022. (See related article in the January 2023 edition of the DOT Pipeline Compliance News.)

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.
  2. §§ 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.

More information is posted on PHMSA’s website and a copy of the Notice can be found here.

PHMSA Released RIN 1 FAQ

PHMSA released a second set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) related to the final rule entitled “Pipeline Safety: Safety of Gas Transmission Pipelines: MAOP Reconfirmation, Expansion of Assessment Requirements, and Other Related Amendments” which was published October 1, 2019. The first set of FAQ related to this rule were released December 21, 2021.

There are 25 new FAQ included and no gas asset group is missed. There are FAQ applicable to gathering, transmission, and distribution operations.

As with all published FAQ, RCP cautions users to read carefully and consider context when applying responses. For example, the new FAQ 59 states that there is no required sampling frequency, and it is applied opportunistically. While this is true as literally stated, if the data is being gathered to satisfy MAOP Reconfirmation under 192.624, the deadlines prescribed in §192.624(b) still govern.

RCP stands ready to assist with updating procedures to accurately reflect expectations generated by this new set of FAQ, assisting with implementation of the rule’s requirements and conducting pre-audit prep to assist in gauging how prepared you may be. Contact Jessica Foley for assistance.

Batch-1 and Batch-2 FAQ are published on the PHMSA website.

PHMSA Released RIN 3 FAQ

On May 9, 2023, PHMSA published the long-awaited Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) related to the rulemaking known as RIN #3 regarding onshore gas gathering lines now classified as Types C and R.  There are 24 FAQ included in the “packet” and they can be found here.

The publication is timely given the original effective date for the remainder of compliance activities is just around the corner, May 24th.  RCP notes that the enforcement discretionary policy remains in effect, as noticed by PHMSA: Note that an Enforcement Discretion has been issued related to the 2021 Rulemaking RIN 2137–AF38, titled “Pipeline Safety: Safety of Gas Gathering Pipelines: Extension of Reporting Requirements, Regulation of Large, High-Pressure Lines, and Other Related Amendments,” issued November 15, 2021. PHMSA’s Notice can be found here.

PHMSA CO2 Public Meeting May 31 – June 1, 2023

PHMSA announced a public meeting and forum on carbon dioxide (CO2) pipeline safety to discuss key topics such as public awareness, emergency response and effective communication with emergency responders and the public, dispersion modeling, safety measures to address other constituents besides CO2 in CO2 Pipelines, leak detection and reporting, and Geohazards.  Key topics include:

  • Safety expectations for pipeline operators
  • General state of CO2 pipeline infrastructure – current mileage and forecasts
  • Federal and state jurisdictions and authorities
  • Public awareness, engagement, and emergency notification
  • Emergency equipment, training, and response
  • Dispersion modeling
  • Safety measures to address other constituents besides CO2 in CO2 pipelines
  • Leak detection and reporting
  • Geohazards
  • Conversion to service
  • Environmental justice

The CO2 meeting will be held May 31–June 1, 2023, in Des Moines, Iowa, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (MT), and will also be webcast for those who cannot attend in person. The agenda and instructions on how to attend are on the public meeting registration page.

Editor’s Note:  Yours truly, Bill Byrd, will be participating on a panel about emergency response.  See you in Iowa!

PHMSA Property Damage Threshold

Prior to July 1, 2023, the property damage threshold used in the definition of a gas pipeline incident in 49 CFR 191.3 is $129,300. Effective July 1, 2023, the property damage threshold is revised to $139,700. Refer to the 2023 Gas Property Damage Reporting Threshold Inflation Adjustment notice for more information.

Pursuant to 49 CFR 195.50, the property damage threshold used in the definition of a hazardous liquid pipeline accident is $50,000.

Did you know?

DID YOU KNOW? Pipeline companies consider safety every step of the way, from planning, to construction, to maintenance. Members of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) have made great strides through our widely recognized safety initiative – the “Integrity Management – Continuous Improvement” (IMCI) program, which provides a foundation for members to safely support the energy transition as we evolve to a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy. Read more about our IMCI program here.

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 March 2023, PHMSA issued 7 NOAs, 5 NOPVs, and 6 WLs accompanied by $225,500 in proposed fines. Significant proposed fines were attributed to the following code sections:

  • $50,200 – 49 CFR 192.625(f)(2) – Odorization of Gas
  • $36,800 – 49 CFR 192.7399a)(3) – Pressure Limiting/Regulation Stations
  • $108,700 – 49 CFR 195.583(b) – Atmospheric Corrosion Control
  • $59,800 – 49 CFR 192.481 – Atmospheric Corrosion Control

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.

Don’t Forget State Enforcement Actions!

Pipeline operators and excavators were assessed $470,600 for violations of the Texas Railroad Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention rules. Master Agreed Orders can be found on the RRC General Counsel webpage.

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, interpretations and pending regulatory deadlines.

Hazardous Liquids operators that have facilities that, in the event of a failure, could affect a High Consequence Area are not required to conduct integrity assessments, as these requirements only apply to line pipe or “Right of Way pipe.” Under §195.452, Pipeline Integrity Management in High Consequence Areas, operators of “could affect” facilities are required to:

  • Integrate data and conduct a Risk Analysis
  • Evaluate the necessity of additional Preventive and Mitigative Measures

Refer to PHMSA FAQ 2.1 for additional information:

Q:  FAQ 2.1 Does the rule apply to more than line pipe?

A:  Yes. The continual evaluation and information analysis requirements of the rule apply to pipelines as defined in 49 CFR 195.2. This includes, but is not limited to, line pipe, valves and other appurtenances connected to line pipe, metering and delivery stations, pump stations, storage field facilities, and breakout tanks. The baseline integrity assessment and periodic re-assessment requirements apply only to line pipe.

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:

  • April 10, 2023, the Valve Rule is now fully in effect and requires all new and entirely replaced gas transmission and liquids pipelines subject to PHMSA’s new RMV rule to comply from that point forward unless alternative technologies are approved by PHMSA for a particular instance. The new RMVs will have to be operational within 14 days of placing the new line or replacement segment in service.
  • The onshore gas gathering rule was published April 8, 2022. Portions became effective May 16, 2022 – Reporting of Incidents for the new Type C & R.
  • Full identification by Type and Class location was to be completed by November 16, 2022
  • For the newly identified Type C that must have the MAOP established, the deadline for boosting system pressure to take advantage of “highest actual operating pressure” as permitted by 192.619(a)(3) is coming fast – May 16, 2023
  • 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.

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


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