DOT Pipeline Compliance News

October 2021 Issue

In This Issue


GPAC and LPAC Virtual Public Meetings October 20-21

[Docket number PHMSA-2021-0069]

PHMSA has announced a meeting of the Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee (GPAC) and Liquid Pipeline Advisory Committee (LPAC) to discuss a variety of policy issues and topics relevant to both gas and liquid pipeline safety. In addition, the committees will discuss the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) titled, “Periodic Updates of Regulatory References to Technical Standards and Miscellaneous Amendments.”

The GPAC and LPAC will meet from 10:30 AM to 6:00 PM (ET) on October 20th  to discuss policy issues and topics, and on October 21st from 10:30 AM to 3:00 PM (ET) to discuss the NPRM. The agenda and information on how to participate in these virtual meetings will be published on the meeting website:

  • October 20th virtual meeting on policy issues, click here.
  • October 21st virtual meeting on the NPRM, click here.

For all of you Really Cool People, presentations will be available on each meeting website and on the Regulations.Gov website in docket number PHMSA-2021-0069 no later than 30 days following the meeting.


Texas Proposed Gas Regulations for Critical Infrastructure

[TR, Volume 46, Number 40]

On October 1, 2021, the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) published in the Texas Register proposed regulations for implementing Senate Bill 3 (SB3) and House Bill 3648 (HB3648). These bills are titled, “Critical Designation of Natural Gas Infrastructure.” In the preamble, the RRC stated these proposed regulations are the first of a series of new regulations needed to implement SB3 and HB3648. This proposal sets up the process for the identification of critical infrastructure and gas customers. The proposal also includes new definitions for: Energy Emergency, Weather Emergency and Critical Customer Information. The proposed regulations would be included in 16 TAC Chapter 3 (§3.65 and §3.107). The new definitions are:

  • An Energy emergency is defined as an event that will or can result in load shedding. Load shedding events are still under the control of the organization identified in the Texas Utility Code.
  • A Weather emergency is defined as any weather event that will or may result in an Energy emergency.
  • Critical customer information is defined as the information listed on the new RRC Table CCI. The Table CCI identifies facilities that cover the entire natural gas production process for the well head, through processing, transportation and delivery, as well as ancillary activities such as saltwater disposal well, and then any other facility not identified but necessary to operate one of the identified facilities.

The process for identifying critical infrastructure begins with completing either a Critical Infrastructure Designation form (CI-D), or a Critical Infrastructure Exemption Application (CI-X). All operators of facilities identified in the definition of critical infrastructure must complete one or both forms for their facilities. These forms will be due for submittal on January 15, 2022 with the next submittal due September 1, 2022. Subsequent submittals will be due September 1 and March 1 every year.

Operators of critical facilities that do not believe the facility is prepared to operate in a weather emergency are to complete the CI-X, file with the RRC and pay the $150 application fee. These facilities will not be identified as critical customers for load shedding during an Energy emergency. A single CI-X listing all the operator’s facilities (as an attachment) is acceptable instead of a CI-X for each facility.

Operators of critical facilities that want to be designated as critical customers are to complete the CI-D. There is no fee. There are several certifications to be signed. The first is that the information on the form and the attached list of critical facilities is correct. The second is that the critical facility list has been submitted to the facility’s electric utility.

If an operator fails to file a CI-D or CI-X, the RRC may fine the operator $1,000 per violation. If the operator fails to provide critical customer information to the facility’s electric utility, the RRC may fine the operator $2,500 per violation.

The comment period for these proposed regulations ends November 1, 2021. Comments may be submitted by mail or electronic submission using one of the following methods: via US Mail to Rules Coordinator, Office of General Counsel, Railroad Commission of Texas, PO Box 12967, Austin, TX 78711-2967; Electronically by posting to the RRC website; or by Email.

A rulemaking workshop concerning these proposed regulations was held on October 5 in Austin, Texas. To view the proposed rule and forms and submit comments online by Monday, November 1, 2021, visit the RRC website under “Chapter 3: Oil and Gas” and review the proposed form amendments here.


Louisiana Gas & Liquid Pipeline Regulations Updates

Louisiana published updates to its hazardous liquid pipeline and gas pipeline regulations. These updates are primarily to adopt changes made in the corresponding PHMSA regulations. There are some exceptions to this general adoption of the federal regulations. In Title 43, Part XIII Chapter 9, the minimum wall thickness for 1” CTS pipe is 0.119inches (PHMSA is 0.099inches) in Tables 2 and 3. In Title 43, Part XIII Chapter 15, Louisiana retained the use of ASTM F2620-12 instead of updating to F2620-19. In Title 43, Part XIII Chapter 25, Louisiana did not expand the lists of threats to specifically include atmospheric corrosion. Specific review of some of these changes include:

Changes to Title 33, Part V, Subpart 3, Chapter 304
Change the title of 30416 from Inspections of Pipelines in Areas Affected by Extreme Weather and Natural Disasters [49 CFR 195.416] to Pipeline Assessments [49 CFR 195.416].

Changes to Title 43, Part XIII, Subpart 3, Chapter 4
Adoption of 49 CFR 191, Appendix A into the State regulation.

Changes to Title 43, Part XIII, Subpart 3, Chapter 9
Adoption of the March 2021 Changes in 49 CFR 192 Subpart C into 43 LAC Chapter 9 except:

  • In Table 2 and Table 3, the minimum wall thickness for 1” CTS pipe is 0.119 inches versus 0.099 inches in 49 CFR 192 Subpart C.

Changes to Title 43, Part XIII, Subpart 3, Chapter 11
Adoption of the March 2021 Changes in 49 CFR 192 Subpart D into 43 LAC Chapter 11.

Changes to Title 43, Part XIII, Subpart 3, Chapter 13
Adoption of the March 2021 Changes in 49 CFR 192 Subpart D into 43 LAC Chapter 13.

Changes to Title 43, Part XIII, Subpart 3, Chapter 15
Adoption of the March 2021 Changes in 49 CFR 192 Subpart C into 43 LAC Chapter 9 except:

  • In 1511.C, retained the use of ASTM F2620-12 instead of ASTM F2620 as identified in 49 CFR 192.281(c).

Changes to Title 43, Part XIII, Subpart 3, Chapter 25
Adoption of the March 2021 Changes in 49 CFR 192 Subpart P into 43 LAC Chapter 25 except:

  • In 3515.B.2 corrosion was not expanded to include atmospheric corrosion as in 49 CFR 192.1015(b)(2)

For more information about these changes, contact Jessica Foley.


Tennessee Damage Prevention Act Changes

On September 16, Tennessee published changes to its Underground Utility Damage Prevention Act. The changes mostly added details or changed certain aspects of reporting. If an underground utility is damaged during excavations, the person responsible for the excavation is to report the damage to the One-Call Center instead of the utility owner; and, if there is a release, to also contact 911. The utility owner now has the option of reporting the event to DIRT or filling a damage report with the One-Call Center. The financial penalties for violations of the Act were increased to $10,000 for second and subsequent violations and to $15,000 per violation for willful intent and gross negligence to comply with the Act. It is now a violation of the Act for utilities to not participate in the One-Call system. The Tennessee Public Utilities Commission is the authorized agency to inspect and enforce the Act.


Texas Railroad Commission PIPES Online Portal Webinar

October 20, 2021

The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) will host a free webinar to inform and train industry personnel and the public on the Pipeline, Inspection, Permitting and Evaluation System (PIPES) portal. The webinar will be held at 10 AM CT on Wednesday, October 20, 2021.

RRC PIPES, which launched in July, allows pipeline operators to upload pipeline safety-related reports, files and payments. In addition, the public can go online and access documents in the RRC’s pipeline safety inspection process. The webinar will cover a variety of topics, including overviews of:

  • RRC’s Access Management Process (RAMP), which manages how authenticated users sign in and receive access to the portal and upload documents for filing in a docket, to be reviewed for acceptance by the Hearings Division’s Docket Services; and
  • RRC PIPES, including a demonstration of how authenticated users can submit plan of correction documents, the Form PS-48, Form PS-95 reports, integrity notifications and fee payments online.

For more information and to register, visit the RRC website.


PHMSA Grants to Support Pipeline Safety Efforts

PHMSA is awarding $98,800,117 in grants to states, territories, and tribes to help enhance pipeline and hazardous materials safety programs at the community level for 11 different safety programs. The awards provide over $69 million in grant funding for six different pipeline safety grant programs, including:  

  • Pipeline Safety State Base grants 
  • Underground Natural Gas Storage
  • Pipeline Safety Technical Assistance
  • State Damage Prevention Program grants
  • One-Call grants 

In addition, the award provides over $28 million in grants to support state and local hazardous materials programs nationwide. 

For additional grant information and a detailed listing of states, territories, tribes, and organizations receiving today’s grants, please visit this link.  


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 August 2021, PHMSA issued 1 CAO, 7 NOPVs, 8 NOAs, and 8 WLs accompanied by $253,000 in proposed fines. Significant proposed fines were attributed to the following code sections:

  • $81,900 – 49 CFR 195.505(b) Operator Qualification
  • $19,000 – 49 CFR 194.7(b) Operations in Accordance with Response Plans
  • $24,100 – 49 CFR 194.117(b)(1) Training Records
  • $19,600 – 49 CFR 195.61(b) NPMS (missing submittal)
  • $19,600 – 49 CFR 195.404(b)(1) Maps & Records (missing pump discharge records)
  • $31,800 – 49 CFR 195.589(c) CP Inspection Records
  • $19,000 – 49 CFR 194.107(c)(1)(ix) Response Plan Requirements
  • $19,000 – 49 CFR 194.121(b)(8) Response Plan Updates (not filed)
  • $19,000 – 49 CFR 194.403(c) Emergency Response Training

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.


Pipeline Safety Institute

Coming soon! The Pipeline Safety Institute will be your one-stop destination for DOT pipeline training in 49 CFR 191, 192, 194, 195, and 199. RCP’s DOT Workshops will be transitioning over to the Pipeline Safety Institute. Additional training topics will cover pipeline operations and engineering concepts, with future course offerings for Integrity Management programs, including: ILI, material testing, fitting and component selection, and qualifying welders. Our curriculum is growing to meet the changes and challenges in the energy industry.

The Pipeline Safety Institute has a team of experienced instructors and subject matter experts from all disciplines. With over 25 years of training experience, we are committed to providing the best pipeline safety training in the industry for all you Really Cool People.

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

Sincerely,

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

Sincerely,

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