DOT Pipeline Compliance News

November 2002 Issue

In This Issue

Extension of Existing Information Collection on OPA plans

Research and Special Programs Administration’s (RSPA) intends to request extension of an information collection in support of the Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) for Response Plans for Onshore Oil Pipelines. (approval number 2137-0589.) Operators are invited to submit comments on whether collecting information on response plans for onshore oil pipelines is burdensome, and other factors explained in the body of this notice. Comments are invited on: (a) The need for the proposed collection of information for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques.

Send written comments in duplicate to Dockets Facility, Plaza 401, U.S. Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh St., SW., Washington, DC 20590. Please include the docket number in your comments. Comments can also be sent electronically to [Docket: RSPA-98-4957] Comments on this notice must be received by December 2, 2002 to be assured of consideration. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marvin Fell, Office of Pipeline Safety, Research and Special Programs Administration, Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20950, (202) 366-6205 or by electronic mail at

O&M Manual Up-To-Date?

RCP has the tools and expertise to develop comprehensive procedures that you need to protect your people, facilities, and environment. Click Here

Vessel and Facility Response Plans for Oil: 2003 Removal Equipment Requirements and Alternative Technology Revisions

The Coast Guard is proposing changes to its requirements for oil-spill removal equipment under vessel response plans and marine transportation-related facility response plans. These changes would increase the minimum available spill removal equipment required for tank vessels and facilities, add requirements for new response technologies, and clarify methods and procedures for responding to oil spills in coastal waters. The proposed changes deal primarily with in-situ burn and dispersant use, and are very extensive. If your oil spill response plan contemplates the use of either of these response technologies, you should down load the entire proposed rulemaking now available on RCP’s website here for review.

DATES: Comments and related material must reach the Docket Management Facility (docket USCG-2001-8661), on or before January 9, 2003. Comments sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on collection of information must reach OMB on or before January 9, 2003. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions on this proposed rulemaking, call or e-mail Mr. Robert Pond, G-MOR, Coast Guard, at telephone 202-267-6603, or

Note: While this proposed rule does not apply directly to DOT pipeline OPA-90 plans, it is likely that the DOT will enforce similar requirements for in-situ burn and dispersant use as the USCG, even if they do not officially modify their regulations.

Interested in Web-Based Compliance Management Systems?

RCP has the latest technology to help manage all of your permits, inspections, procedures, and data requirements and neatly organize them into one overall compliance assurance system. This includes regulatory tasking, data management, and exception reporting. Because it is web-based, there are no IT issues to struggle through to get started. An institutional memory is created of the compliance history and ongoing compliance requirements, despite operator or personnel turnover.  Click Here

OPS Advisory re: Gas Gathering Line Delineation

OPS recently released an advisory concerning the definition of gas gathering lines, which reads in part:

Until OPS completes its rulemaking to better define natural gas gathering lines (Docket No. RSPA-98-4868), OPS will continue to classify lines according to the four-point standard established through court precedent and historical interpretation. OPS will also continue to classify lines that pose unique difficulties of classification on a case-by-case basis. In brief, in the most common situation, gathering begins at or near the well head. In most cases, the gathering process terminates at the outlet of a processing plant. A processing plant is defined by the extraction of heavy ends from the natural gas. If there is no upstream processing plant, the gathering process terminates at the outlet of a pipeline compressor. For the purposes of determining the termination point of the gas gathering process, OPS does not consider a well head compressor (field compressor) to be a pipeline compressor. If there is no processing plant or pipeline compressor, the point at which the gathering process ends is where two or more well pipelines converge. If none of these points applies, the gas gathering termination point is where there is a change in ownership of the pipeline. These points are determined on a case-by-case basis considering the location of the pipeline in relation to population density, major traffic areas, and environmentally sensitive areas.

The entire advisory can be downloaded from RCP’s website here.

Revised SPCC Requirements and RCP SPCC Workshops

RCP has scheduled several 1-day workshops on the EPA’s revised Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures Plan regulations (published July 17th, 2002, effective August 16th, 2002). If your facility stores more than 55 gallons of oil in a single container, these revisions could affect you! Click here to view a list of locations and find out how to register.

The final rule:

  • Expands the scope of the rule to conform with the expanded jurisdiction in the amended Clean Water Act
  • Includes new subparts for various classes of oil
  • Revises to applicability of the regulation
  • Amends several requirements for completing SPCC Plans
  • Clarifies storage threshold quantity factors
  • Revises several definitions
  • Revised the discharge reporting thresholds and reporting requirements
  • Revised the review period frequency for SPCC Plans
  • Adds new integrity testing and new equipment design requirements
  • Revised employee training requirements.

RCP has prepared a document that highlights the changes from the previous version of the rule. There are 8 definitions from the original rule that were unchanged. Other than that, EVERY PARAGRAPH was changed in some way. If you would like to receive a copy of the document, please request one via email to

Acquiring a pipeline?

RCP can provide due diligence audits to help you ensure that potential compliance issues have been addressed before the sale is final. Click Here.

National Preparedness for Response Exercise Program (PREP) triennial exercise schedule for 2003, 2004, and 2005.

The Coast Guard, the Research and Special Programs Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Minerals Management Service, in concert with representatives from various State governments, industry, environmental interest groups, and the general public, developed the Preparedness for Response Exercise Program (PREP) Guidelines to reflect the consensus agreement of the entire oil spill response community. This notice announces the PREP triennial cycle, 2003-2005, requests comments from the public, and requests industry participants to volunteer for scheduled PREP Area exercises.

Comments and related material must reach the Docket Management Facility (docket USCG-2002-13582) on or before December 30, 2002.

If you have questions or need general information regarding the PREP Program and the schedule, contact Mr. Robert Pond, Office of Response, Plans and Preparedness Division (G-MOR-2), U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, telephone 202-267-6603, fax 202-267-4065 or e-mail If you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, call Ms. Dorothy Beard, Chief, Dockets, Department of Transportation, telephone 202-366-5149.

The PREP Area exercise schedule and exercise design manuals are available on the Internet at To obtain a hard copy of the exercise design manual, contact Ms. Melanie Barber at the Research and Special Programs Administration, Office of Pipeline Safety, at 202-366-4560. The 2002 PREP Guidelines booklet is available at no cost on the Internet at or by writing or faxing the TASC DEPT Warehouse, 33141Q 75th Avenue, Landover, MD 20785, facsimile: 301-386-5394. The stock number of the manual is USCG-X0241. Please indicate the quantity when ordering. Quantities are limited to 10 per order.

The full notice and schedule can be downloaded from RCP’s website at here.

Texas Railroad Commission – Proposed Rule on Discontinuance of Service

The Railroad Commission of Texas proposes new rule 16 TAC 8.340, relating to Discontinuance of Service, which applies when a natural gas service customer ceases taking service at a particular location. The proposed new rule supplements the federal pipeline safety rule, found at 49 CFR 192.727(d), and provides more detailed direction to providers of natural gas service with respect to the time for complying with the federal safety standard. The proposed rule reads:

8.340.Discontinuance of Service.

  1. Upon notification from a current customer to discontinue natural gas service at that customer’s service location, each provider of natural gas service shall take one of the three steps specified in 49 CFR 192.727(d) within:
    1. 48 hours, if the current customer is moving or relocating any gas appliances from the premises and within that 48 hours there will not be a new customer occupying the premises; or
    2. 120 hours, if the current customer is not moving or relocating the gas appliances from the premises and within that 120 hours there will not be a new customer occupying the premises.
  2. A provider of natural gas service is not required to take any of the three steps specified in 49 CFR 192.727(d) if the natural gas service provider is notified to transfer natural gas service to another customer who will occupy the service location within 120 hours and no gas appliances are being either removed or installed.

Comments on the proposal may be submitted to Rules Coordinator, Office of General Counsel, Railroad Commission of Texas, P.O. Box 12967, Austin, Texas 78711-2967; online at; or by electronic mail to The Commission will accept comments for 30 days after publication in the Texas Register (editor’s note: this was published October 25, 2002), and should refer to Gas Utilities Docket No. 9336. For further information, call Mary McDaniel at (512) 463-7058. The status of Commission rulemakings in progress is available at

Air Permit Needs?

Are you planning to expand or acquire? Air permit applications can be complex and consuming. RCP has the expertise to navigate through the application process, develop compliance assurance systems, and submit reports. Click Here

Minerals Management Service (MMS) – Corrections to abandonment regulations

On October 30, 2002, the MMS published corrections to the final regulations decommissioning activities, and included requirements for plugging a well, decommissioning a platform and pipeline, and clearing a lease site, originally published on Friday, May 17, 2002 (67 FR 35398). The final regulations that are the subject of these corrections add a new subpart Q to the 30 CFR Part 250 regulations. They update decommissioning requirements to reflect changes in technology to ensure that lessees and pipeline right-of-way holders conduct decommissioning operations safely and effectively. The new subpart Q supersedes subpart G (Abandonment of Wells) in its entirety and selected sections of subpart J (Pipeline and Pipeline Rights-of-Way), and subpart I (Platforms and Other Facilities). The effective date of the regulations is July 17, 2002, and they affect all operators, lessees, and pipeline right-of-way holders on the Outer Continental Shelf.

The corrections being made are non-substantive and are necessary for clarification purposes only. They are effective July 16, 2002. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sharon Buffington, (703) 787-1147.

Editor’s note: The specific section of interest to the pipeline industry is that “the introductory text in � 250.1726 is clarified to include “pipeline rights-of-way” as well as leases”. The rule revisions can be downloaded from RCP’s website here.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Workshop, Better Stakeholder Involvement: How To Make It Work

The Office of Energy Projects will host the third workshop in its second phase of its “Better Stakeholder Involvement-How to Make it Work” series on Thursday, November 21, 2002 at the Doubletree Riverfront Hotel, 50 Warren Street, Lowell, Massachusetts 01852, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The phone number at the hotel is 978-452-1200. You may also go to the hotel’s website for more detailed directions at This meeting will focus on interagency communications and agreements, alternative dispute resolution, and benefits and opportunities for local stakeholders in the pre-filing arena. FERC is inviting interstate natural gas companies; Federal, state and local agencies; landowners and other non-governmental organizations interested in developing strategies for involving people in the pre-filing planning process for natural gas pipelines. Discussions will continue to be based on the ideas outlined in staff’s December 2001 report, “Ideas for Better Stakeholder Involvement In The Interstate Natural Gas Pipeline Planning Pre-Filing Process.” This report can be downloaded from the FERC web-site at or requested by e-mail at:

Please consider, and forward to FERC, issues and/or questions you would like to have addressed at the meetings. If you have any questions, you may contact any of the staff listed below: Richard Hoffmann 202/502-8066, Lauren O’Donnell 202/502-8325, Jeff Shenot 202/502-8329, Howard Wheeler 202/502-8688. If you plan to attend or have suggestions for the agenda, please respond by Monday, November 18, 2002 via facsimile to Roberta Coulter at 202/208-0353, or you may email: Please include in the response the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all attendees from your organization.

NTSB Report on Bellingham Pipeline Accident

The National Transportation Safety Board has released their final report on the June 10, 1999 Bellingham, Washington pipeline accident. It can be downloaded from: This accident has been a major factor in the subsequent Pipeline Integrity Management rulemakings for liquid pipelines. The NTSB’s executive summary states: The Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the June 10, 1999, rupture of the Olympic pipeline in Bellingham, Washington, was (1) damage done to the pipe by IMCO General Construction, Inc., during the 1994 Dakin-Yew water treatment plant modification project and Olympic Pipe Line Company’s inadequate inspection of IMCO’s work during the project; (2) Olympic Pipe Line Company’s inaccurate evaluation of in-line pipeline inspection results, which led to the company’s decision not to excavate and examine the damaged section of pipe; (3) Olympic Pipe Line Company’s failure to test, under approximate operating conditions, all safety devices associated with the Bayview products facility before activating the facility; (4) Olympic Pipe Line Company’s failure to investigate and correct the conditions leading to the repeated unintended closing of the Bayview inlet block valve; and (5) Olympic Pipe Line Company’s practice of performing database development work on the supervisory control and data acquisition system while the system was being used to operate the pipeline, which led to the system’s becoming non-responsive at a critical time during pipeline operations.

The major safety issues identified during this investigation are as follows:

  • Excavations performed by IMCO General Construction, Inc., in the vicinity of Olympic’s pipeline during a major construction project and the adequacy of Olympic Pipe Line Company’s inspections thereof;
  • The adequacy of Olympic Pipe Line Company’s interpretation of the results of in-line inspections of its pipeline and its evaluation of all pipeline data available to it to effectively manage system integrity;
  • The adequacy of Olympic Pipe Line Company’s management of the construction and commissioning of the Bayview products terminal;
  • The performance and security of Olympic Pipe Line Company’s supervisory control and data acquisition system; and
  • The adequacy of Federal regulations regarding the testing of relief valves used in the protection of pipeline systems.

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