PHMSA has completed a study titled “Burial of Submerged Pipelines”, which addresses the hazards to navigation from offshore submerged pipelines. The study found that since 1990 there have been 58 reported instances of a vessel or its equipment striking a submerged pipeline offshore, and 64 reported instances where a submerged pipeline was either uncovered or presented a hazard to navigation. No incidents were found outside of the Gulf of Mexico.
The study addresses the impact of pipeline depth of burial and vessels in waters less than 15 feet of depth. PHMSA anticipates there will be changes in the offshore environment, such as liquefied natural gas import facilities. PHMSA is working with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to ensure adequate protection of LNG lines. PHMSA provides FERC with findings from our safety analysis for consideration of conditional terms for granting permits. Therefore, PHMSA has the ability to get safety concerns addressed through FERC by adding them as conditions of a permit. In addition, climate change may adversely affect offshore pipeline infrastructure by causing shifts in weather patterns, water depth or vessel traffic. PHMSA requests comments on the study to assist in evaluating the need for further analysis due to these anticipated changes in the offshore environment. Comments must be submitted by May 21, 2007.
For a copy of the study, please contact Jessica Roger.