DOT Pipeline Compliance News

October 2005 Issue

In This Issue

Joint Information Center Established For Oil Spill Response

The US Coast Guard issued the following press release on Sept. 13, 2005:

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Coast Guard and its industry partners have established a Joint Information Center to support the response to seven major oil spills in the southern Louisiana area following Hurricane Katrina. The Joint Information Center can be reached starting Sept. 14 at 7 a.m. at (225) 267-2937 or

Shameless Commerce Note: The US Coast Guard uses the PIER system to power their emergency communications website, including the one mentioned above. PIER is a very effective and efficient way to manage communications with the public – both for crisis communications and for new project development outreach. As mentioned elsewhere in this newsletter, RCP is an implementation partner for PIER, and can work with you to develop state-of-the-art crisis communications capabilities for your company.

Integrity Management Services

RCP can assist pipeline operators with ongoing compliance management and engineering associated with your IMP. This includes direct assessment strategies, tool and vendor selection, ILI/ECDA report analysis, corrosion control programs, repair strategies, and IMP/risk model updates. For more information on how RCP can support your ongoing IMP needs, Click Here.

MMS Temporary Office

NTL No. 2005-G11: Gulf of Mexico Regional Office Operations after Hurricane

The Minerals Management Service (MMS) Gulf of Mexico Regional and New Orleans District Offices have resumed most operations under its Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) subsequent to Hurricane Katrina. The COOP team is stationed in Houston, Texas. MMS is committed to conducting operations in as normal a manner as possible. NTL No. 2005-G11 provides guidance on the conduct of operations. The NTL is available on MMS’s website at:

RCP’s Fantastic 1-Page Version of New SPCC Regulation

The deadline for SPCC Plan revisions is fast approaching, February 17, 2006! RCP has developed a 1-page version (in tiny type) of the new SPCC regulations, to be revised as per the April 17, 2003 rule modification. To receive a complimentary copy along with a CD of valuable SPCC Reference Materials Click Here to request additional information.

Distribution Facilities and Katrina

Advisory Bulletin (ADB-05-07) – Katrina and Gas Distribution Facilities

The Office of Pipeline Safety recently issued the following advisory bulletin for gas distribution pipeline facilities in the path of Hurricane Katrina. The full advisory bulletin, with introductory information, is available on OPS’s website.

To: Owners and operators of natural gas distribution pipeline facilities.

Subject: Potential for damage to natural gas distribution pipeline facilities caused by the passage of Hurricane Katrina.

Advisory: All operators of natural gas distribution pipeline facilities in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida are warned that pipeline safety problems may have been caused by the passage of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005. Likely problems include but are not limited to damage of above ground equipment due to flooding and flying debris, damage to buried pipelines from soil movement, and water leaking into low pressure pipelines.

Pipeline operators are urged to take the following actions to ensure personal and environmental safety and the integrity of natural gas distribution pipeline facilities located in areas impacted by Hurricane Katrina:

  1. Conduct additional leak surveys and inspection of above ground equipment as necessary to detect any damage which may have occurred.
  2. For distribution systems or portions of systems that have been shut down, check for damage to piping, valves, emergency shutdown systems, risers and meter sets prior to restoring system operation and relighting customers.
  3. Check for water that may have leaked into low pressure systems.
  4. Identify and correct any conditions on the pipeline as required by the Federal pipeline safety regulations.

RCP Services Spotlight – RCP Auditing, Due Diligence and Expert Witness Services

RCP’s approach to audits and assessments is typically either consultative or enforcement oriented depending upon the client’s needs. The consultative approach is typically viewed by clients as a cooperative effort that assesses regulatory compliance status in concert with operational and maintenance issues. This method provides feedback on existing management practices versus industry standards.

The consultative approach not only identifies opportunities for regulatory compliance improvement, but also provides recommendations on how existing management practices can effectively achieve and sustain these improvements. An enforcement approach gives the client an idea of how well a facility can manage an agency audit and how likely it would be for an agency inspector to issue a Notice of Violation.

RCP provides comprehensive, confidential regulatory consulting services, including:

  • Quick-Hit Regulatory Compliance Checkups
  • Comprehensive Regulatory Compliance Audits
    • Compliance program gap analysis
    • Recordkeeping evaluation
    • Field inspections
  • Regulatory Agency Jurisdictional Determinations, Interpretations & Audits
    • DOT
      • Integrity Management Program
      • Operator Qualification
      • Operations & Maintenance
      • Public Awareness API RP1162
      • Facility Response Plans
    • U.S. Coast Guard
      • Dock Operations
      • Oil Spill Response Plans
      • Facility Security Plans
    • EPA
      • Spill Prevention Control & Countermeasure Plans
      • Air/Wastewater Permitting
      • Facility Response Plans
      • Risk Management Plans
    • OSHA
      • Process Safety Management
      • Health & Safety Plans
    • State-Specific Regulations
  • Asset Acquisition Due Diligence
    • Phase 1 Environment Assessments
    • Permitting & Associated Agency Notifications
    • Compliance Program Development
    • Employee Qualification & Training Program Assessment
    • Asset Integrity Management Liability Assessment
    • Record Keeping, Documentation & Data Room Inspections
  • Expert Witness Service
    • Pipeline Safety
    • Regulatory Interpretation

If you would like information regarding RCP’s Auditing, Due Diligence and Expert Witness Services, e-mail Jessica Roger or call (713) 655-8080.

Katrina Transmission Advisory

Advisory Bulletin (ADB-05-08) – Hurricane Katrina and Transmission Pipelines

The Office of Pipeline Safety recently issued the following advisory bulletin. The full bulletin, with introductory language, is available on OPS’s website.

To: Owners and operators of gas and hazardous liquid pipeline systems.

Subject: Potential for damage to pipeline facilities caused by the passage of Hurricane Katrina.

Advisory: All operators of gas and hazardous liquid pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico and adjacent state waters are warned that pipeline safety problems may have been caused by the passage of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005. PHMSA received numerous reports of damage to pipeline facilities, particularly offshore Louisiana. Pipeline operators are urged to take the following actions to ensure personal and environmental safety and the integrity of gas and hazardous liquid pipelines located in areas impacted by Hurricane Katrina:

  1. Identify persons who normally engage in shallow water commercial fishing, shrimping, and other marine vessel operations and caution them that underwater offshore pipelines may have become unprotected on the sea floor. Marine vessels operating in water depths comparable to a vessel’s draft or when operating bottom dragging equipment can be damaged and their crews endangered by an encounter with an underwater pipeline.
  2. Identify and caution marine vessel operators in offshore shipping lanes and other offshore areas where Hurricane Katrina may have affected a pipeline that deploying fishing nets or anchors, and dredging operations may damage the pipeline, their vessels, and endanger their crews.
  3. In the process of bringing offshore and inland transmission facilities back online, check for structural damage to piping, valves, emergency shutdown systems, risers and supporting systems. Aerial inspections of pipeline routes should be conducted to check for leaks in the transmission systems. In areas where floating and jack-up rigs have moved and their path could have been over the pipelines, review possible routes and check for sub-sea pipeline damage where required.
  4. Identify and correct any conditions on the pipeline as required by the Federal pipeline safety regulations.

PHMSA would appreciate receiving information about all damage to pipeline facilities in the Gulf of Mexico and adjacent State waters caused by Hurricane Katrina. The Federal pipeline safety regulations require that operators report certain incidents and accidents to PHMSA by specific methods. Damage not reported by these methods may be reported to Joy Kadnar at (202) 366-0568 or

Need to Update Your Current Operator Qualification Program?

We have the expertise to update your current operator qualification program to satisfy the upcoming regulation change and inspection protocols. Click Here to request more information.

EPA Prepares for Publication of SPCC Guidance for Regional Inspectors

EPA is preparing to release its SPCC Guidance for Regional Inspectors. The document is undergoing thorough review, and it will be made publicly available within the next several weeks. Please check back, more information will be posted soon.

The document is intended to assist regional inspectors in reviewing a facility’s implementation of the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule (40 CFR part 112). It is intended to establish a common understanding among regional EPA inspectors on how certain provisions of the rule may be applied. It will cover topics such as applicability, environmental equivalence, secondary containment and impracticability, and integrity testing, as well as the role of the inspector in the review of these provisions. It will also be available as a guide to owners and operators of facilities that may be subject to the requirements of the SPCC rule and the general public on how EPA intends the SPCC rule to be implemented.

Need to update your Public Awareness Program?

RCP can help develop your updated plan to meet API RP 1162 standards, and provide turnkey implementation, mail-outs, evaluations, and tracking of your program. For more information, call or click here.

Reissued TX OCS Discharge Permit

Reissuance of the NPDES General Permit for the Territorial Seas Off Texas

The Regional Administrator of EPA Region 6 has issued the final National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) “General Permit for the Territorial Seas off Texas” (No. TXG260000) for discharges from existing and new dischargers and New Sources in the Offshore Subcategory of the Oil and Gas Extraction Point Source Category (40 CFR part 435, subpart A) as authorized by section 402 of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. 1342. The permit supersedes the previous general permit (TX0085651) issued on September 15, 1983 and published in the Federal Register at 48 FR 41494. That permit authorized discharges from exploration, development, and production facilities located in and discharging to the territorial seas off Texas. Through this reissuance, EPA includes current technology and water quality based effluent limitations consistent with National Effluent Limitations Guidelines, Federal Ocean Discharge Criteria, and State Water Quality Standards.

EPA made the following changes to the proposed permit. Ambient density stratification data were examined and the critical dilutions required for the produced water toxicity limits were recalculated. The proposed 48-hour acute toxicity limit was replaced with a seven day chronic toxicity limit. An exemption for toxicity caused by total dissolved solids was included for the 24-hour acute toxicity limits. The permit allows collection of a single grab sample for toxicity testing. The State lease and well numbers are required to be reported on the notice of intent to be covered. Unmeasurable de-minimis discharges of drilling fluids such as wind blown splatters from pipe racks are authorized. A number of minor typographical changes and clarifications were also made to the permit’s language.

A copy of the Region’s responses to comments and the final permit may be obtained from the EPA Region 6 Internet site:

FERC Pre-Filing for LNG

Pre-Filing Procedures for Review of LNG Terminals and Other Natural Gas Facilities

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) is proposing regulations in accordance with section 311(d) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) to implement mandatory procedures requiring prospective applicants to begin the Commission’s pre-filing review process at least six months prior to filing an application for authorization to site and construct a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal. As proposed, the mandatory procedures would require that the prospective applicant submit information necessary for pre-filing review of the LNG terminal, as defined in EPAct 2005, as well as any pipeline and other natural gas facilities necessary to transport regasified LNG from an LNG terminal to existing natural gas pipeline infrastructure. As required by EPAct 2005, the proposed regulations are designed to encourage applicants to cooperate with state and local officials to address safety considerations. A prospective applicant also would be required to comply with the pre-filing procedures prior to filing an application to make significant modifications to an existing LNG terminal likely to involve state and local safety considerations. Under the proposed regulations, prospective applicants could continue to elect on a voluntary basis to undertake the pre-filing process prior to filing applications for other facilities subject to the Commission’s jurisdiction under the Natural Gas Act (NGA).

Comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking are due September 14, 2005 [Docket No. RM05-31-000]. The full proposal is available from RCP by e-mailing Jessica Roger or calling 1-888-727-9937.

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

OCS Plans and Information Final rule; Delay of Effective Date

The Minerals Management Service (MMS) is delaying the effective date of the rule amending 30 CFR Parts 250 and 282 published at 70 FR 51478, August 30, 2005 (see our September, 2005 newsletter for more information). This rule regulates plans and information that lessees and operators must submit in connection with oil and gas exploration, development and production on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). This delay is necessary because of damage in the New Orleans area caused by Hurricane Katrina and subsequent flooding. This temporary delay will provide relief to the government and the oil and gas industry as they recover from this disaster. The effective date of the rule amendment is now January 1, 2006. This rule was originally intended to become effective September 29, 2005.

NTL No. 2005-G16: Damage Caused by Hurricane Katrina

Note: Supersedes NTL 2005-G14

Editor’s note: This NTL applies to pipeline right-of-way holders on the OCS, which includes DOT regulated pipelines (DOT pipelines have to get a right-of-way agreement from the MMS to install pipelines on the OCS, even though they are under the jurisdiction of the DOT for design, operations, and maintenance purposes). However, the regulations specifically cited to justify the inspections required below are only applicable to DOI (i.e. MMS, not DOT) pipelines. The MMS has not yet replied to our request for clarification about this (understandably, as they have lots of things to worry about at the moment). We recommend that DOT pipeline operators on the OCS comply with this NTL, even if it could reasonably be argued that it shouldn’t apply as written.

The Minerals Management Service has issued a Notice to Lessees (NTL) to lessees and pipeline right of way holders requiring inspections of OCS Pipelines potentially impacted by Hurricane Katrina. Pursuant to 30 CFR 250.1005(a), you must conduct inspections of pipeline routes at intervals and using methods prescribed by the MMS. Under this authority, and because of the numerous reports of severe damage to OCS pipelines along the path of Hurricane Katrina, the MMS GOMR hereby directs you to conduct the following inspections for facilities located east of longitude 91ş 30’ (91.5ş) by May 1, 2006 (NOTE – this area is different from the area requiring Structural inspections):

  1. Pipeline Tie-in and Crossing Inspections — Conduct an underwater visual inspection using divers or ROV, a scanning sonar processor, or a 500-kHz sidescan sonar in combination with a magnetometer to inspect each of your OCS pipeline tie-ins and foreign pipeline crossings in water depths less than 300 feet. Design each inspection to determine whether any valves or fittings became exposed and to determine the extent of any damage, including damage to protective devices, mats, and sandbags. If during the course of inspecting pipeline tie-ins and crossings there are indications of pipeline movement, conduct an underwater pipeline inspection described in Item No. 4 below regardless of water depth.
  2. Pipeline Riser Inspections — Conduct a visual inspection of the above-water portion of each pipeline riser in all water depth ranges. If applicable, conduct this riser inspection in conjunction with the required platform Level I survey described above. Inspect the riser and riser clamps for damage. If this inspection indicates that damage may have occurred, conduct an underwater riser and pipeline inspection to determine if the pipeline has been displaced or exposed.
  3. Pipeline Steel Catenary Riser Inspections — Conduct an inspection using divers or ROV of the underwater portions of each of your OCS pipeline steel catenary risers. Inspect the riser, vortex-induced vibration (VIV) suppression devices, and the connection point (flexible element, titanium stress joint, etc.) to the structure for damage.
  4. Additional inspections — If you suspect that Hurricane Katrina may have damaged a pipeline or related structure that is located west of longitude 91ş 30’ (91.5ş) conduct the appropriate inspections described in Items Nos. 1, 2, and 3, above.

You should submit your inspection results to MMS by Oct 14, 2005, then the first Friday of each month thereafter. Remember that a repair procedure must be submitted prior to conducting any repair operations. If you haven’t already done so, perform a leak test before you return to service any pipeline located east of longitude 91ş 30’ (91.5ş). Make sure that the leak test successfully tests the integrity of the pipeline. When you conduct a leak test, make sure that you use a stabilized pressure that is capable of detecting all leaks; use pressure gauges and recorders that are sufficiently accurate to determine whether the pipeline is leaking during the test; and conduct the test for at least two hours during daylight hours. For major oil pipelines, provide aerial surveillance of the pipeline route while you perform the test.

Address any questions regarding pipeline inspections or reports to Mr. Alex Alvarado of the GOMR Pipeline Section by telephone at (281) 986-6157, (281) 755-5204 or by e-mail at

Damage Prevention Program – Rule Correction

In Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, parts 186 to 199, revised as of October 1, 2004, on page 81, in §192.614 paragraph (c)(5) is corrected by removing the word “possible” and adding in its place the word “practical.”

Editor’s comment: The sentence above is the FULL TEXT of the federal register notice, which has to be a record.

Gas Gathering Line Definition – Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

At present, PHMSA’s safety standards do not apply to onshore gathering lines in rural locations, while onshore gathering lines in non-rural locations must meet the same requirements as transmission lines. In addition, PHMSA does not regulate “production facilities” in either rural or non-rural environment, since these facilities are under the jurisdiction of the EPA. The definition of “gas gathering” has been the subject of much discussion for over 30 years. The current regulations essentially say that gathering begins at the end of production, gathering ends at the beginning of transmission, and that transmission begins at the end of gathering. Thus it is frequently unclear if a pipeline is an exempt production line, a gathering line (possibly exempt), or a regulated transmission line.

PHMSA has recently proposed new definitions for gas gathering, based on API RP-80, that should clarify the difference between production, gas gathering, and transmission. PHMSA has also developed a new risk classification system, based on pipeline pressure and population density, to determine which of the gathering pipelines are “regulated onshore gathering lines.” This risk classification system would also be used to establish safety standards for the higher-risk onshore gathering lines, and to relax current standards on the low-risk onshore gathering lines. (Onshore gathering lines in inlets of the Gulf of Mexico are not affected by this rulemaking.) Operators would use a new risk-based approach to determine which of its gathering lines are “regulated onshore gathering lines” and what safety standards the lines must meet.

OPS has not yet posted this Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on its website. For a copy, contact Jessica

For further information contact DeWitt Burdeaux by phone at 405-954-7220 or by e-mail at Persons interested in submitting written comments on the rules proposed in this notice must do so by January 3, 2006. Late filed comments will be considered so far as practicable. [Docket No. RSPA-1998-4868; Notice 5]; RIN 2137-AB15.

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