In This Issue

PHMSA Issues SNPRM for Low-Stress Hazardous Liquid Pipelines in Rural Locations

PHMSA has issued a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPRM) for low stress hazardous liquid pipelines located in rural locations. This follows the original Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) issued on September 6, 2006 that addressed new regulatory requirements for Regulated Rural Gathering Lines and Regulated Low Stress Lines (reference RCP’s October 2006 Newsletter).

In response to the PIPES Act, PHMSA has decided to take a two-phased approach to regulating low-stress hazardous liquid pipelines. In phase one, PHMSA proposes to apply all existing regulations found in 49 CFR 195 for those low-stress pipelines 8 5/8 inches or greater in diameter located in or within ˝ mile of an Unusually Sensitive Area (USA). In phase two, PHMSA will initiate a separate rulemaking to apply Part 195 to all remaining unregulated rural low-stress pipelines. Gathering lines are not addressed in the SNPRM and the requirements proposed for those lines remain as described in the September 6 2006 NPRM.

Some key areas of interest in this SNPRM include the following:

  1. Once a pipeline meets the applicability criteria proposed in 195.12, all of the Part 195 regulations will apply instead of the limited set of regulations proposed in the September 6 2006 NPRM. The applicability criteria for these hazardous liquid pipelines are as follows:
    1. Pipelines with a nominal diameter of 8 5/8 inches or more
    2. Is located in or within ˝ mile of a USA
    3. Operates at a maximum operating pressure corresponding to a stress level equal to or less than 20 percent. If the stress level is unknown or the pipeline is not constructed with steel pipe, a pressure equal to or less than 125 psig.
  2. Reporting requirements found in Subpart B are extended to all currently unregulated rural low-stress pipelines. These include annual reports, safety-related condition reports, and accident reports.
  3. Although the buffer size was increased to ˝ mile for applicability determination, operators will be allowed to utilize comprehensive spread analysis for integrity management HCA analysis.
  4. Phase two will review corrosion control requirements to determine if any modifications, such as requiring cleaning pigs, are necessary on a broader scale.
  5. Allows for limited relief to implementation of certain integrity management requirements for operators who choose to abandon their low stress pipelines due to economic burdens associated with the IM assessment. To qualify for this relief, an operator of a low stress pipeline that carries oil from a production facility at a rate lower than 14,000 barrels per day (this is not an average flow rate) must notify PHMSA of its decision to abandon the pipeline due to the economic burden of the IM assessment. PHMSA will then evaluate the notification in consultation with the Department of Energy, as appropriate, to analyze the potential energy impact of the loss of the pipeline.

PHMSA is accepting written comments until June 18, 2007 on the proposed regulatory changes. For more information, contact Jessica Roger.