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Category Archives: Operation & Maintenance

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PHMSA and CSB Urge Special Precautions in the Wake of Hurricane Harvey

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Incident Response, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA, Public Awareness/ Community Relations
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the devastating storm that recently swept through central Texas, both the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) are urging special precautions to minimize the impact of the storm on pipeline and other energy infrastructure in the state.… Continue Reading

Fate of Extensive Liquid Pipeline Final Rule Uncertain

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Integrity Management, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA
During the last week of the Obama Administration, PHMSA released a pre-publication copy of the hazardous liquid pipeline safety final rule, which has been six years in the making. The rulemaking was intended to address issues raised by several sources: high profile pipeline accidents; directives contained in amendments to the Pipeline Safety Act; and recommendations from the NTSB and GAO. The final rule would implement many significant and expansive inspection and reporting requirements, including periodic integrity assessments and leak detection for pipelines outside of high consequence areas (HCAs), inspections of pipelines after extreme weather events, expanded reporting, and more stringent integrity management repair and data collection requirements.… Continue Reading

Concerns about HCA Identification Methods Prompts Advisory

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Integrity Management, Natural Gas, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act
Citing concerns that intrastate and small gas transmission pipeline operators may not be accurately identifying high consequence areas (HCAs) as part of their integrity management programs (IMP), PHMSA issued yet another advisory to the industry on December 12, 2016.  In its seventh advisory issued this year, PHMSA explains the need for further guidance on the methodology… Continue Reading

Underground Natural Gas Storage Interim Final Rule Issued

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Construction & Design, Natural Gas, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Reporting Obligations
PHMSA has issued an interim final rule (IFR) to establish – for the first time ever – minimum federal standards for underground natural gas storage facilities. The IFR imposes significant new requirements in a short timeframe for “downhole facilities,” including wells, wellbore tubing and casings at underground natural gas storage facilities.… Continue Reading

GPAC Public Meetings to Discuss PHMSA Gas Rule Rescheduled

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Integrity Management, Natural Gas, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act
PHMSA has rescheduled the public meetings of the Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee (GPAC) for January 11-12, 2017.  The purpose of these meetings is to discuss PHMSA’s proposed gas mega rule and the underlying regulatory analysis.  The meetings were previously scheduled for December 7-8, 2016, but have been rescheduled based on the availability of committee members… Continue Reading

Pipeline Blast Highlights Necessity of Proper Abandonment Procedures

Posted in Enforcement, Integrity Management, Natural Gas, Operation & Maintenance, Pipeline Safety Act
A previously abandoned natural gas pipeline exploded in Seattle, Washington on March 9, 2016, injuring nine firefighters, destroyed two buildings, and damaged multiple nearby structures.  The entity responsible for regulating intrastate and interstate gas pipelines in the state, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, recently released a report from its investigation of the incident, concluding that… Continue Reading

Pipe Subject to Safety Regulations Until Formally Abandoned: PHMSA Advisory

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Enforcement, Natural Gas, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA, Recordkeeping, Reporting Obligations
PHMSA issued an advisory to operators regarding the applicability of its safety regulations to idled, inactive and abandoned pipe. Congress directed PHMSA to issue such an advisory in the recent PIPES Act of 2016, in response to several high profile incidents involving idled pipe. … Continue Reading

Advisory Bulletin Warns About Corrosion Under Insulation

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Integrity Management, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA, Policy
A recent PHMSA Advisory Bulletin warns the pipeline industry about Corrosion Under Insulation (CUI), which is frequently used on pipe transporting heavy crude oil.  Such products are often heated for more efficient transport, thus the pipe is wrapped with foam insulation over the coating, and then further covered with a tape wrap over the insulation.  The… Continue Reading

Expansive Proposed Rulemaking Issued by PHMSA for Natural Gas Pipelines

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Construction & Design, Integrity Management, Natural Gas, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Recordkeeping, Reporting Obligations
PHMSA has released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM or Notice) to substantially revise that Agency’s rules (at 49 CFR Part 192) for construction, operation and maintenance of natural gas pipeline systems. … Continue Reading

PHMSA Proposes Amendments to Regulations to Address the Use of Plastic Pipe in Gas Service

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Construction & Design, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA, Recordkeeping
PHMSA has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), proposing various changes to the natural gas pipeline safety regulations (49 C.F.R. Part 192) to address regulatory requirements involving plastic piping systems used in gas services. … Continue Reading

PHMSA Announces Public Workshop on Safety Management Systems

Posted in Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA, Policy
The Agency announced a public workshop to discuss the voluntary Pipeline Safety Management Systems (SMS) national consensus standard on April 22, 2015 in Houston, Texas. This standard, Recommended Practice (RP) 1173, has been in development by the American Petroleum Institute (API) for some time now as a result of the NTSB’s Investigation of the Marshall, Michigan incident. … Continue Reading

Advisory Regarding Damage to Pipelines from Flooding

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Incident Response, Integrity Management, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA, Public Awareness/ Community Relations
PHMSA issued an updated advisory regarding the potential for damage to pipeline facilities caused by severe flooding. Presumably prompted by the January 2015 release to the Yellowstone river in Glendive, Montana, associated with an area of exposed pipeline on the river bottom, the Agency reiterated the nine (9) actions it has set forth in prior advisories to prevent and mitigate damage to pipelines impacted by flooding. … Continue Reading

PHMSA Final Rule Amends Numerous Pipeline Safety Regulations

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Construction & Design, Integrity Management, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Policy, Reporting Obligations
PHMSA issued a Final Rule that amends various Part 195 and 192 regulations relating to post-construction inspections, welding, gas component pressure testing requirements, and calculating pressure reductions for immediate repairs on liquid pipelines, among other changes.… Continue Reading

Criminal Plea Serves as a Reminder of Harsh Penalties for “Knowing and Willful” Pipeline Safety Violations

Posted in Enforcement, Operation & Maintenance, Pipeline Safety Act
As a stark reminder of the availability of criminal sanctions for violations of federal pipeline safety regulations, a pipeline corrosion monitor has pleaded guilty to charges brought under the federal Pipeline Safety Act (49 U.S.C. 60101 et seq.) and faces up to 15 years in prison and $750,000 in fines. … Continue Reading

PHMSA Releases Advisory and Guidance for Pipeline Flow Reversals, Product Changes and Conversion to Service

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Integrity Management, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA
PHMSA has issued an Advisory Bulletin to alert hazardous liquid and gas transmission pipeline operators of the impacts associated with flow reversals, product changes, and conversions to service.  The Advisory, issued in conjunction with newly-published Agency Guidance on these issues, recommends that operators consult existing conversion of service requirements for flow reversals and product changes and undertake… Continue Reading

Pipeline Crack Detection and R&D Public Workshops Announced

Posted in Environmental, Integrity Management, Operation & Maintenance, PHMSA
PHMSA and the National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives (NAPSR) announced a public workshop to be held on August 5, 2014, to discuss challenges associated with detecting and characterizing crack-like defects in oil and gas pipelines (e.g., environmentally assisted cracks and cracks associated with corrosion). … Continue Reading

Review of Presidential Permit Limited to Border Crossing (Not Entire Pipeline)

Posted in Operation & Maintenance, Policy
In late 2013, the U.S. State Department granted a Presidential Permit approving the reversal of flow of an existing pipeline that crosses the U.S.-Canadian border in North Dakota. In contrast to other pending Presidential Permits for several proposed pipelines, such as Keystone XL, it appears that the State Department limited its review in this instance to a short section of the pipeline at the border crossing, as opposed to the entire pipeline.… Continue Reading