DOT Pipeline Compliance News

November 2021 Issue

In This Issue


Gas Gathering Final Rule

[Docket No. PHMSA-2011-0023]

PHMSA has provided an advanced copy of what will be the Final Rule for regulated gas gathering pipelines once published in the Federal Register (expected November 15, 2021).  The rule (Pipeline Safety: Safety of Gas Gathering Pipelines: Extension of Reporting Requirements, Regulation of Large, High-Pressure Lines, and Other Related Amendments) was originally included in the larger proposed “gas mega-rule”, but was subsequently separated so other elements within the mega-rule could be expedited due to congressional mandates.  Here is a summary of the key elements of the upcoming final rule.

  • The final rule requires operators of all onshore gas gathering lines to report incidents and file annual reports under part 191. Type R gathering lines are exempt from safety-related condition reporting requirements in §§ 191.23 and 191.25.  The final rule clarifies that all gathering lines are exempt from National Pipeline Mapping System submittals.
  • PHMSA is adding definitions under § 191.3 for “regulated onshore gathering” and “Reporting-regulated gathering.” The term “regulated onshore gathering” is defined as a Type A, Type B, or Type C gas gathering line as determined in accordance with § 192.8. The term “reporting-regulated gathering” is defined as an onshore gathering pipeline other than a regulated onshore gathering pipeline. These pipelines have been designated as “Type R” gathering lines in § 192.8 but are not regulated under that part.
  • The final rule adds a new paragraph § 192.8(b) to specify that gas gathering lines must maintain records documenting the methodology used to determine the beginning and endpoints of segments determined to be gas gathering lines as determined in accordance with part 192. This final rule specifies that these records must be established within 1 year of the effective date of the rule, or within 1 year of pipeline installation, whichever is later. These records include the API RP 80 definitions and methods used to define the beginning and endpoints and where those points are located (e.g., mile markers, address, or coordinates). Operators must maintain these records for the life of the pipeline, meaning until the pipeline is removed from the ground or permanently abandoned in place in accordance with § 192.727.
  • The final rule revises § 192.8(a)(5) to address the use of incidental gathering described in API RP 80. For new, replaced, relocated, or otherwise changed gas gathering lines installed after the effective date of this final rule, “incidental gathering” may not be used if the “incidental” endpoint is 10 miles or more from the furthermost downstream point where a gathering line endpoint is determined (e.g., processing facilities, compressor stations, points of comingling). A new, replaced, relocated, or otherwise changed pipeline that is designated as an “incidental gathering” pipeline but is 10 miles or more in length will be considered a transmission pipeline subject to all applicable portions of parts 191 and 192. Incidental gathering lines existing on or before the effective date of the rule may continue to operate as a gathering line, regardless of length.
  • The final rule provides for a new Type C regulated gathering line in § 192.8. Type C gathering lines are defined as gas gathering lines in Class 1 locations that have outer diameters of 8.625 inches or greater and operate at higher stress levels or pressures (i.e., metallic pipe with MAOP > 20% SMYS, metallic pipe with unknown stress levels and MAOP > 125 psig, and non-metallic with MAOP > 125 psig). The safety requirements for Type C lines include:
    • Design, installation, construction, and initial inspection and testing for lines that are new, replaced, relocated, or otherwise changed after the applicable compliance date in § 192.13 per transmission line requirements in part 192;
    • Corrosion Control (part 192, subpart I);
    • Damage Prevention Program (§ 192.614);
    • Emergency Plans (§ 192.615);
    • Public Awareness (§ 192.616);
    • Line Markers (§ 192.707); and
    • Leakage Surveys (§ 192.706).
    • Additional requirements for Type C gathering lines with outside diameters greater than 12.75 inches:
      • Applicable requirements of part 192 for plastic pipe and components; and
      • Establishment of MAOP (§ 192.619).
    • The applicability of each of these requirements is summarized in the table below:
Outside diameterNot located near a building intended for human occupancy or other impacted site (§ 192.9(f))Located near a building intended for human occupancy or other impacted site (§ 192.9(f))
Greater than or equal to 8.625 inches up to and including 12.75 inches-Design, Construction, Initial Inspection and Testing (new/replaced/relocated/changed lines)
-Damage Prevention,
-Emergency plans
-Design, Construction, Initial Inspection and Testing (new/replaced/relocated/changed lines)
-Corrosion Control
-Damage Prevention
-Emergency Plans
-Line Markers
-Public Awareness
-Leakage Surveys
Greater than 12.75 inches up to and including 16 inches-Design, Construction, Initial Inspection and Testing (new/replaced/relocated/changed lines)
-Damage Prevention
-Emergency Plans
All Type C Requirements
Greater than 16 inchesAll Type C RequirementsAll Type C Requirements
  • When determining whether the pipeline is located near a building intended for human occupancy or other impacted site, the final rule requires that operators of Type C gathering line use a factor of 0.73 for wet/rich natural gas in the PIR calculation rather than the 0.69 factor for dry natural gas used in the integrity management regulations. This results in a slightly larger potential impact circle reflecting the potentially more intense fire and explosion hazards due to the higher average energy content of unprocessed gas, which may contain higher concentrations of natural gas liquids and other hydrocarbons.
  • Operators must achieve compliance with applicable Type C requirements no later than 1 year after the effective date of the rule, unless PHMSA has approved an alternative compliance schedule after the operator has submitted a notification in accordance with § 192.18.
  • To address composite pipe, PHMSA has added a definition under § 192.3 and included a provision to allow operators to install or replace composite pipe that is not otherwise authorized by part 192 for use in regulated Type C gas gathering lines upon notification to PHMSA pursuant to §§ 192.9(h) and 192.18. Operators may use composite pipe or materials as proposed in their notification if, after 91 days, they have not received a letter from PHMSA with either an objection to the proposed use of composite pipe, or that states that PHMSA requires additional time to conduct its review. Additionally, operators may continue to use composite pipe installed on or before the effective date of the rule; no notification under §§ 192.9(h) and 192.18 would be required in those circumstances.

For a copy of this advanced copy of the final rule, or to inquire how RCP can assist with applicability of this rule and implementation requirements, contact Jessica Foley.


Mandatory Revisions to Gas Pipeline O&M Manuals by December 27, 2021

As a reminder, there are mandatory revisions to gas pipeline O&M manuals due by December 27, 2021. The PIPES Act of 2020 (Section 113) contains self-executing provisions requiring pipeline facility operators to update their inspection and maintenance plans to address the elimination of hazardous leaks and minimization of releases of natural gas (including, and not limited to, intentional venting during normal operations) from their systems before December 27, 2021.

PHMSA released an Advisory Bulletin (ADB-2021-01) on June 10, 2021 reminding Gas Pipeline Operators of this requirement. Within the bulletin, PHMSA stated they expect operators to comply with the inspection and maintenance plan revisions required in the PIPES Act of 2020 by revising their operations and maintenance (O&M) plans to address the elimination of hazardous leaks and minimize releases of natural gas from pipeline facilities. The plans will also need to be revised to address replacement or remediation of pipelines that are known to leak due to their material of construction (including cast iron, unprotected steel, wrought iron, and historic plastics with known issues).

The revised O&M plans must include procedures for identifying, locating, and categorizing all leaks that are hazardous to human safety or the environment or those that have the potential to become explosive or otherwise hazardous to human safety. In addition, the updated plans need to include the development of criteria for repairs along with the timeframe for completing repairs.

RCP is assisting our clients, who are Really Cool People, with preparation of procedures to meet these new requirements. If you would like more information about the details of this Advisory Bulletin ADB-2021-01, or would like assistance in developing the mandatory O&M plan update, contact Jessica Foley.


TSA Extends Comment Period for Security Directive

The Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Safety Administration has extended the comment period for its security directive of May 26, 2021, concerning Critical Pipeline Operators. The agency is requesting comments if the proposed information request is necessary and has a practical utility at the agency. The agency is also collecting comments about the accuracy of the estimated burden to the operator, the quality and clarification of the information being requested. Finally, the TSA wants to know what collection methods minimize the burden for information collection. The new deadline for comments is November 15, 2021. For a copy of the Federal Register Notice regarding this extension, contact Jessica Foley.


Colorado Proposed Gas Pigging Regulations

Colorado is proposing new environmental regulations that may impact the midstream gas pipeline segment. The new regulations define the midstream gas pipeline segment as the pipe between the well and the transmission pipeline. The purpose of the proposed regulations is to reduce the quantity of greenhouse gases, primarily methane, and volatile organic compounds emitted from pigging operations and blowdown operations. The pigging and blowdown proposed changes in Regulation 7 of the Department of Public Health and Environment are just a few of multiple changes impacting natural gas processing plants, compressors and well pad emissions.

The emission reduction requirements for pigging and blowdown operations, with the exception to high frequency activities, require the operator to use best management practices to control the emissions. These practices include venting higher pressure pipe to lower pressure systems, reducing the volume of the pipe and pig barrel to minimize the volume to be vented, and removal of liquids before the opening of the pig receivers to prevent volatilization of the liquid. There are new recordkeeping and reporting requirements associated with these changes. These changes are primarily determining the amount and character of the released material and the actions taken to minimize the quantity.

A public hearing (online only) is scheduled for December 14, 2021. Details to participate and register can be found here. Copies of the proposed regulation and associated documents can be accessed on Google Drive here. For a copy of the Public Hearing Notice, contact Jessica Foley.


Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission Proposed Regulation Changes

[RM#20-03]

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission is proposing a draft set of changes and additions to the 170 IAC 5-3. Many of the changes are clarifications to the existing regulations and modifications to 49 CFR 192. These clarifications include more precise definitions, providing detailed examples and specific reporting requirements. The proposed definition changes include ‘operator’ to include transportation of gas, hazardous liquid or carbon dioxide for sale, commercial use or for use by another person. Modifications to the 192 requirements include additional requirements for pressure testing, leak surveys, compliance options and service line requirements. The proposed changes additions also include changes to Indiana requirements for farm taps, reporting requirements and recordkeeping requirements.

A comment period for these changes ends November 12, 2021. To track the status of the rulemaking, to make comment or see the comments, click here. For additional information about how RCP can help you with these changes, contact Jessica Foley.


Nevada New Pipeline Safety Regulations to Conduct Annual Leak Detection Surveys

[Docket No. 19-09011]

The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) adopted proposed regulations for annual leak surveys for all distribution systems. Nevada becomes the first state in the nation to apply such a standard to every type, vintage and mile of distribution pipe. These regulations were approved by the state Legislative Commission on October 22, 2021.

The PUCN opened an investigation and rulemaking docket in 2019 to consider requiring natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) utilities to conduct annual leak detection surveys of all distribution pipelines. Staff recommended that the PUCN mandate leak detection surveys at least once each calendar year at intervals not exceeding 15 months for all systems transporting natural gas or LPG.

Current federal regulations require operators to conduct annual leak detection only in “business districts” within a utility’s service area; however, the regulations do not define “business districts.” Utilities were responsible for determining what areas are considered “business districts,” but that determination was not uniform across utilities and led to variations in how operators determined which properties should be subject to annual leak surveys.

In areas outside of business districts, federal regulations require leak detection surveys at least once every five years. By requiring annual leak detection surveys on all distribution systems transporting natural gas or LPG, the inspections will ensure all business and residential areas are surveyed in a timely manner.

For more information about the investigation and rulemaking proceeding, visit the PUCN website at pucnv.gov. From the top navigational bar on the home page, select Dockets and then select All Dockets, scroll to Docket No. 19-09011 and click “View.”


New York Proposed Rulemaking: More Specific Requirements for Operator Qualification to Work on Pipelines

The New York Public Service Commission is considering revisions to certain sections of 16 NYCRR Part 255 to make the provision of natural gas service safer in New York State with better qualified pipeline workers. For a copy of the proposed rulemaking, contact Jessica Foley.


API’s Facility Integrity Workshop Date Change

API is postponing the Facility Integrity Workshop, initially scheduled for November 10, 2021, to January 19, 2022.  The workshop will remain as a virtual event. All existing registrations remain in effect. If you prefer to receive a refund, please contact registrar@api.org.

The postponement will provide additional time for coordination across the API Pipeline Integrity Group and API Construction and Operations Group, which are jointly sponsoring the workshop. In addition, API expects that RP 1188, Hazardous Liquids Pipeline Facilities Integrity Management, will be published prior to the January 19, 2022 workshop. A key element of the workshop program is addressing how RP 1188 can be applied to improve operators’ facility integrity programs and what operators may do differently with the development and completion of RP 1188. 


Pipeline Transportation: Hydrogen and Emerging Fuels R&D Virtual Public Meeting

PHMSA is holding a virtual public meeting and forum titled: “Pipeline Transportation and Emerging Fuels R&D Public Meeting and Forum.”  The public meeting and forum will serve as an opportunity for pipeline stakeholders to discuss research gaps and challenges in pipeline safety and emerging fuels, including hydrogen transportation. It will also serve as a venue for PHMSA, public interest groups, industry, academia, intergovernmental partners, and the public to collaborate on PHMSA’s future R&D agenda. 

The meeting will be held November 30 through December 2, 2021.  Members of the public who wish to attend must register between October 15 and November 15, 2021.  Registration, agenda and more information can be found here: PHMSA Public Meetings and Documents: Pipeline Transportation: Hydrogen and Emerging Fuels R&D Public Meeting and Forum (dot.gov)


Louisiana Underground Utilities and Facilities Damage Prevention Law

On January 2, 2022 amendments to the Louisiana Underground Utilities and Facilities Damage Prevention Law go into effect. These changes affect both the operator and excavator. When an operator receives a notification request to mark a pipeline and determines their pipeline and facilities are not affected and do not need marking, they must let the excavator know by the deadline to mark the pipeline. This notification may be completed through communication with the excavator or Louisiana 811 in addition to a Ticket Management System that notifies the excavator. There is a Ticket Management System free to Louisiana 811 members. For information on using this system, contact info@laonecall.com. In addition, the amendment requires excavators to white line the area of excavation. This may be done in the field or electronically when placing the notification request.


2021-2022 Conference News

Rio Pipeline 2021 (Virtual)
November 9-11, 2021

Rio Pipeline includes participation of specialists from all over the world. The event provides an opportunity for qualified debate on how to improve efficiency, quality and safety in the use of pipelines. During the event, relevant topics will be discussed, such as regulatory affairs, energy transition, offshore, integrity, new technologies, etc. RCP’s President, Mr. Bill Byrd, P.E., will be speaking during the special session on November 9th: Different Regulatory Frameworks: Knowledge & Experience Sharing. More info can be found on the Rio Pipeline 2021 website.

API Virtual Pipeline Facilities Integrity Workshop
January 19, 2022

See related article above.

PPIM 2022 | George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston
January 31-February 4, 2022

It’s hard to believe, but PPIM is almost with us again. In parallel with the demands for greater pipeline safety, reliability, and efficiency – and the explosive growth in the market for technologies to help meet those demands – PPIM has evolved to become a significant forum for reporting new developments and field experience, and for showcasing the relevant tools and systems. It is the place where the needs of pipeline operators and the capabilities of service and equipment suppliers intersect. Registration and conference details can be found here: PPIM 2022 (ppimhouston.com)

REX2022: the PRCI Research Exchange Meeting (Hybrid)
March 8-9, 2022 | Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando, FL

Each year, REX provides PRCI member companies, key research partners, and external stakeholders with a report on important research results and a forum for an exchange of ideas. REX is the key knowledge transfer window for PRCI and offers attendees opportunities to learn how to move results into practice. The meeting will be held in a hybrid format to include in-person attendance as well as virtual attendance. Additional events can be found on PRCI’s website

AGA Operations Conference
May 2-6, 2022 | Hilton New Orleans Riverside

The annual AGA Operations Conference will be an in-person event in New Orleans. The 2022 Conference is a Non-Exhibit year. The Operations Conference is AGA’s largest forum with regularly more than 900 operations management in attendance, including over 100 speakers, and 120 technical presentations that run the gamut of topics, such as gas measurement, operations advocacy, safety, environment, storage, engineering, construction and maintenance, gas control, supplemental gas, corrosion control and piping materials. AGA’s Spring Committee Meetings (May 2-3) will meet in conjunction with the Operations Conference, May 3-6

API Pipeline, Control Room and Cybernetics Conference
May 3-5, 2022 | Savannah Convention Center and Westin Hotel

Save the Dates! The 2022 API Pipeline, Control Room and Cybernetics Conference will be an in-person event in Savannah, Georgia. Check the API website for more information and registration details.


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 September 2021, PHMSA issued 3 NOPVs, 3 NOAs and 4 WLs with no proposed fines at this time.

Please note:

  1. Pipeline operators may disagree in whole or in part with each proposed violation cited by PHMSA. 
  2. Proposed fines 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 Probable Violation (NOPV) is not proof that a violation actually occurred.
  5. A Notice of Amendment (NOA) is frequently a result of a difference of opinion regarding written procedure requirements.
  6. A Proposed Compliance Order (PCO) frequently documents actions the pipeline operator already planned to do.
  7. 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.


DOT Pipeline Compliance Virtual Workshop

Nov 15-17, 2021

Join us virtually, November 15-17, 2021  for an informative and interactive online workshop on DOT Pipeline Compliance topics. This Workshop will give a brief overview of the new rules, in addition to our standard overview of the DOT pipeline regulations in 49 CFR 191, 192, 194, 195, 196, and 199. It also describes pipeline operations and engineering concepts. It is appropriate for people who are new to pipeline regulations, who could use a refresher, or anyone who needs to know the latest developments in these areas. This workshop will be a combined format, addressing both gas and liquid pipeline topics in parallel. This will eliminate some redundancy of materials, and will allow more time for in-depth discussions for each topic.

Topics to be addressed in the workshop include:

  • An overview of DOT/OPS pipeline compliance requirements
  • State and Federal agency roles for pipeline safety
  • PHMSA Jurisdiction
  • PHMSA Inspections and Enforcement Processes
  • Engineering Concepts and Stress/Strain Relationships; %SMYS
  • Design Requirements
  • Construction Requirements
  • Corrosion Control Concepts and Requirements
  • Operations and Maintenance Requirements
  • Emergency Response Requirements (including spill response planning requirements for liquid pipelines)
  • Damage Prevention Programs
  • Operator Qualification Programs
  • Drug and Alcohol Programs
  • Public Awareness Programs
  • Integrity Management (gas and liquid) Programs
  • Control Room Management Programs

We will also discuss the PIPES Act of 2021; recent Advisory Bulletins from PHMSA; and new, pending and proposed rulemakings.

Each attendee will receive an electronic copy of the presentation as well as applicable handouts, and applicable regulations and voluminous reference materials including rulemakings, letters of interpretation, and other guidance documents.

To register for our workshop, click here.

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

Sincerely,

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