In This Issue

PHMSA Final Rule: Misc. Changes to Pipeline Safety Regs

[Docket No. PHMSA-2010-0026; Amdt. Nos. 191-23; 192-120; 195-100]

On March 11, 2015, PHMSA published a Final Rule amending the pipeline safety regulations in the following subject areas: post-construction inspections, leak surveys of Type B onshore gas gathering lines, qualifying plastic pipe joiners, regulation of ethanol, transportation of pipe, filing of offshore pipeline condition reports, and calculation of pressure reductions for hazardous liquid pipeline anomalies. The Final Rule also made several editorial changes in the regulations. The changes are effective October 1, 2015.

Post-construction inspections: PHMSA modified the gas and hazardous liquid regulations to require that post-construction inspections of gas transmission and hazardous liquids pipelines be performed by a person other than the one who performed the construction task. In response to comments on the proposed rule, PHMSA clarified that it did not intend to require third-party inspections or prohibit all persons from a company from inspecting the work of another company employee. Only the person who performed the construction task will be excluded from conducting the inspection.

Regulation of Transportation of Ethanol by Pipeline: The definition of “hazardous liquid” has been modified to include ethanol.

Offshore Pipeline Condition Report: Because inspections of shallow-water pipelines are based on risk, reports are no longer required 60 days after inspections. This reporting requirement (191.27 and 195.57) has been removed from the gas and hazardous liquid regulations.

Calculating Pressure Reductions for Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Integrity Anomalies: The requirements for pressure reduction calculations have been clarified. ASME/ANSI B31G and PRCI PR-3-805 (R-STRENG) can now be used to calculate the required pressure reduction as well as for determining if an anomaly is an “immediate repair condition.” If no “suitable remaining strength calculation method” can be identified, then pressure must be reduced a minimum of 20% from the actual operating pressure of the past 2 months.

National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS): PHMSA added sections 191.7(e), 191.29 and 195.58(e), and 195.61 to codify the statutory requirement for submission of information to the NPMS.

Welders vs Welding Operators: Welding operators are now specifically included in the requirements for welding procedures and qualifications. Additionally, Appendix A of API 1104 has been added as an option for evaluating welds.

Odorization of Gas Transmission Lateral Lines: PHMSA proposed to amend § 192.625(b)(3) to state that the length of a lateral line, for purposes of calculating whether at least 50 percent of the line is in a Class 1 or Class 2 location, be measured between the distribution center and the first upstream connection to the transmission line. This proposal was removed due to comments received and discussions at the Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee (GPAC) meetings. PHMSA will re-evaluate the proposal and may consider it in a future rulemaking action.

Leak Surveys for Type B Gas Gathering Lines: Annual leak surveys (not to exceed 15 months) will be required for Type B gathering lines. Any hazardous leaks found must be repaired.

Components Fabricated by Welding: All ASME pressure vessels to be used in gas meter stations, compressor stations and other locations subject to testing for Class 3 or Class 4 requirements must be designed and pressure tested to 1.5 times the MAOP. The ASME Boiler and Pressure Code Section VIII specifies that pressure tests must be done to 1.3 times the MAOP.

Qualifying Plastic Pipe Joiners: Plastic pipe joiners must be re-qualified each calendar year (not to exceed 15 months) or after any production joint is found unacceptable. Current regulations allow 3 joints or 3% of all joints made to be unacceptable.

Testing Components Other Than Pipe in Low-Pressure Gas Pipelines: The requirements for testing of components, now found in 192.505 for pipelines that operate at 30% of SMYS or more, will be applicable to all pipelines and mains.

Mill Tests for Pipe to Operate at Alternative MAOP: The allowance for combining loading stresses imposed by pipe mill hydrostatic testing equipment with the internal test pressure has been eliminated.

Alternative MAOP Notifications: For new pipelines to be operated using an alternative MAOP, notification to PHMSA will be required at least 60 days prior to the earliest start date of either pipe manufacturing or construction activities. For pipelines already in service, the 180 days notification requirement remains.

Transportation of Pipe: The exception for gas transmission pipe transported before November 12, 1970 has been eliminated. All pipe transported by rail must be transported in accordance with API 5L1, if the pipe will be operated at a hoop stress of 20% or more of SMYS and has a diameter-to-wall-thickness ratio of 70 to one or more.

For a copy of PHMSA’s Final Rule of misc. changes to the pipeline regulations, please contact Jessica Foley.