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Category Archives: PHMSA

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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

Volatility of Petroleum Products: Deadline Extended for Submitting Comments on PHMSA ANPRM

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, PHMSA, Policy
PHMSA is extending the deadline for comments due today (March 21, 2017) on the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) issued on January 18, 2017. The new deadline for comments is May 19, 2017. The ANPRM was issued in response to a petition for rulemaking filed by state of New York, enquiring about risks posed by transport of petroleum by means other than pipeline, specifically by rail, and whether to establish vapor pressure standards for the transportation of crude oil. The ANPRM requested comments on whether a national standard should be developed for vapor pressure of crude oil, including the potential safety benefits and costs of establishing a standard. The intent of the ANPRM is to evaluate measures to reduce risk of fire and explosion in non-pipeline transport of crude oil such as a national vapor pressure standard and, if so, adopt appropriate threshold recommendations for the standard.… Continue Reading

Texas Challenges PHMSA Underground Natural Gas Storage Rule

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Natural Gas, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act
The state of Texas and the Texas Railroad Commission have petitioned the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to review PHMSA’s interim final rule regulating underground natural gas storage facilities. As required by the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016, PHMSA published an interim final rule last December establishing minimum federal safety standards for underground natural gas storage facilities, which became effective in January. Such facilities have come under increased scrutiny since the 2015 Aliso Canyon storage field leak that lasted almost four months.… Continue Reading

Commerce Department Attempts to Clarify Executive Directive to Use U.S. Pipe

Posted in Construction & Design, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Policy
The Department of Commence published a request for comments related to implementation of the January 24, 2017 Executive Memorandum regarding "Construction of American Pipelines." The short Memorandum directs the Secretary of Commerce to “develop a plan under which all new pipelines, as well as retrofitted, repaired, or expanded pipelines, inside the borders of the United States, including portions of pipelines, use materials and equipment produced in the United States, to the maximum extent possible and to the extent permitted by law.” The Commerce Department is directed to submit its Plan to the President within 180 days, or by July 23, 2017. The Memorandum also notes that “produced in the United States” excludes manufacture of any components or any assembly done abroad, but provides no further clarification on applicability.… Continue Reading

Advisory on Deactivation of Integrity Management Threats

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Integrity Management, Natural Gas, PHMSA, Recordkeeping
A new Advisory on deactivation of threats for gas transmission lines was issued by PHMSA on March 15, 2017 (to be published in the March 16, 2017 Federal Register). Amidst uncertainty about the fate of various proposed and final rules issued by PHMSA and other federal agencies under the new Administration due to the Regulatory Freeze Executive Memorandum of January 20, 2017 and other executive orders, PHMSA’s issuance of this clarifying guidance regarding minimum criteria for deactivation of integrity threats is notable. … 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

New Executive Order Requires Agencies to Withdraw 2 Regulations for Every 1 Proposed

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Administrative Rulemaking, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Policy
President Trump signed another Executive Order (EO) on January 30, 2017, entitled Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs. The new EO, applicable to the entire Executive Branch, including all federal administrative agencies, makes a straightforward directive: “…for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination.” The Order goes on to state that the costs associated with any new regulations may not exceed the savings realized by repealing at least two prior regulations (“the total incremental cost of all new regulations…shall be no greater than zero.”).… Continue Reading

Regulatory Freeze issued by New Administration

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Administrative Rulemaking, Integrity Management, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act
On the first day of the new Trump Administration, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus issued a Memorandum to the heads of all Executive Departments and Agencies, requesting that all federal agencies suspend transmittal of any new proposed or final rules to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) until the new Administration’s Agency appointees have… 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

Pipelines Subject to Higher Penalties under New PHMSA Civil Penalty Policy

Posted in Administrative Guidance, Enforcement, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Policy
On October 11, 2016, PHMSA released a Policy Statement notifying owners and operators of oil and gas pipelines that it is finally making its civil penalty framework publicly accessible, and that respondents may now request proposed civil penalty calculations in enforcement actions.… Continue Reading

Emergency Order Interim Regulations Released

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Enforcement, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act
Taking the first step to implement its new emergency order authority, PHMSA has issued an interim final rule which will be effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. Final rules must be issued by March 19, 2017, but PHMSA will accept and consider comments filed within 60 days of publication. … 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

Agencies Continue Planning for Regulation of Underground Gas Storage

Posted in Natural Gas, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Reauthorization
In response to the Aliso Canyon leak from an underground natural gas storage well that lasted nearly four months, federal agencies with oversight of over such facilities announced workshops to gather information and solicit input on forthcoming minimum safety regulations. There are an estimated 400 interstate and intrastate underground natural gas storage facilities that operate… 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

Pipeline Safety Legislation Headed for the President’s Signature

Posted in Federal/ State Legislation, Natural Gas, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Policy
Congress has approved amendments to the Pipeline Safety Act (PSA), reauthorizing PHMSA’s pipeline safety program through 2019. The bill is expected to reach the President’s desk soon to be signed into law. S. 2276 was approved in the House of Representatives by voice vote in the first week of June, representing a compromise between two… Continue Reading

Comment Period Extended 30 Days for PHMSA Gas Proposed Rule

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Integrity Management, Natural Gas, PHMSA, Recordkeeping, Reporting Obligations
PHMSA announced that it will extend the comment period on its proposed gas rule by only 30 days, with comments due on or before July 7, 2016.  Due to the scope and complexity of the proposal, numerous parties requested a 60 day extension of the comment period.  In granting the 30 day extension, PHMSA noted… Continue Reading