In This Issue

PHMSA Advisory Bulletin ADB-2016-05 Clarification of Terms Relating to Pipeline Operational Status / Abandoned Pipelines

[DOCKET NO. PHMSA-2016-0075]

PHMSA issued an advisory bulletin to all owners and operators of hazardous liquid, carbon dioxide, and gas pipelines to clarify the regulatory requirements that may vary depending on the operational status of a pipeline. This advisory bulletin identifies regulatory requirements operators must follow for the abandonment of pipelines. Pipeline owners and operators should verify their operations and procedures align with the regulatory intent of defined terms as described under this bulletin. PHMSA regulations do not recognize an “idle” status for a hazardous liquid or gas pipelines. The regulations consider pipelines to be either active and fully subject to all parts of the safety regulations or abandoned.

The process and requirements for pipeline abandonment are captured in §§ 192.727 and 195.402(c)(10) for gas and hazardous liquid pipelines, respectively. Pipelines abandoned after the effective date of the regulations must comply with requirements to purge all combustibles and seal any facilities left in place. The last owner or operator of abandoned offshore facilities and abandoned onshore facilities that cross over, under, or through commercially navigable waterways must file a report with PHMSA.

PHMSA regulations define the term “abandoned” to mean permanently removed from service. Companies that own pipelines abandoned prior to the effective date of the abandonment regulations may not have access to records relating to where these pipelines are located or whether they were properly purged of combustibles and sealed. To the extent feasible, owners and operators have a responsibility to assure facilities for which they are responsible or last owned do not present a hazard to people, property or the environment.

Owners and operators of pipelines that are not operating, but contain hazardous liquids and gas, must comply with all applicable safety requirements, including periodic maintenance, integrity management assessments, damage prevention programs, response planning, and public awareness programs.

The advisory bulletin goes into effect immediately. For a copy of ADB-2016-05, contact Jessica Foley.