Pipeline Law

Pipeline Law

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Pipeline Construction After Keystone

Posted in Practice Pointers
The legacy of Keystone XL lives on, as fallout from that politically influenced debate has created a stigma for many new pipeline construction projects.  The Sierra Club and other opposition groups openly admitted that their challenge to the Keystone XL pipeline was really a stalking horse to bring more attention to climate change generally.  While… Continue Reading

Focus on Records During Acquisitions, or Risk Significant Liabilities

Posted in Practice Pointers
The development of new oil and gas in various shale plays around the U.S. has led to a rise in the number of transfers and acquisitions of pipeline assets.  Prudent operators have always requested and reviewed documentation as part of their due diligence in making acquisitions, but it is becoming increasingly important that certain records… Continue Reading

Pipeline Abandonment: Safety and Supply Concerns at the Heart of Recent Developments

Posted in Practice Pointers
Recent legislative and regulatory developments at the federal and state levels signal lawmakers’ increased attention to issues related to the abandonment of oil and gas pipelines.  The U.S. House of Representatives is currently considering a bill, proposed earlier this year in the wake of a release of crude oil in the streets of a Los Angeles… Continue Reading

Critical Importance of Insurance Notification and Cooperation

Posted in Practice Pointers
In the wake of a pipeline release, beyond notifying all required federal and state government agencies, an operator should keep in mind another important notification—its insurer.  Most insurance policies contain mandatory conditions, including notice of claims and cooperation with the insurer.  Failure to comply with these conditions may result in a denial of coverage.  The… Continue Reading

Corrective Action Orders: Targeted Use, Expansive Requirements

Posted in Practice Pointers
The issuance of a Corrective Action Order (CAO) can have significant and ongoing consequences for a pipeline operator.  A powerful enforcement tool typically associated with the shutdown of a pipeline facility, a CAO often means numerous compliance obligations and significant disruption of normal operations, not to mention the stigma accompanying a CAO’s pre-requisite finding that… Continue Reading

Creating a Record for Enforcement Hearings: New PHMSA Policy Mandates Use of Court Reporters

Posted in Administrative Rulemaking, Enforcement, PHMSA, Pipeline Safety Act, Practice Pointers
Creating a record in PHMSA enforcement actions is an important step toward protecting and preserving the legal rights of pipeline owners and operators.  If an operator seeks judicial review of the Agency’s final decision in an enforcement action, the administrative record will be a key component of the case.  The Pipeline Safety Act requires that… Continue Reading

Trends and Issues in Non-Traditional Ownership of Pipeline Systems

Posted in Practice Pointers
Over the past decade, and further spurred by the recent recession, the energy sector has experienced a notable uptick in private equity investment and other forms of non-traditional ownership. This trend is particularly prevalent in the pipeline industry. The goal is often to only hold the assets for a relatively brief time, then sell them at… Continue Reading

Increasing Requests for Disclosure of Documents Under FOIA

Posted in Practice Pointers
In light of recent high profile pipeline incidents, PHMSA, among other federal agencies, is experiencing an unprecedented number of requests for disclosure of information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) at 5 U.S.C. 552, et seq.  These requests often come from Congress, citizen groups, or other administrative agencies such as the NTSB.  FOIA, referred… Continue Reading

Mounting Scrutiny Regarding Facility Response Plans

Posted in Practice Pointers
Under OPA 90, certain pipeline operators must prepare Facility Response Plans (FRPs), submit them to PHMSA, and review and revise them every five years (49 CFR Part 194). After the Deepwater Horizon incident, PHMSA reminded operators, among other things, to submit updates to their FRPs within thirty days if new or different operating conditions could… Continue Reading

Electrical Interference Protection

Posted in Practice Pointers
PHMSA regulations for both oil and gas pipelines require operators to provide protection against fault currents or lightning impacts on buried pipe.  See 49 C.F.R. parts 192.467(f); 195.575(e).  These rules obligate operators to electrically isolate buried or submerged pipelines from other metallic structures.  Examples of the types of interference that may occur include close proximity… Continue Reading

No More Exemptions for Exceedance of MAOP in Gas ‘Safety Related Condition Reports’

Posted in Practice Pointers
The 2012 Amendments to the Pipeline Safety Act (PSA) effectively suspended all exemptions for filing Safety Related Condition Reports (SRCRs) for those conditions resulting in an exceedance of 110% MAOP. Under 49 C.F.R. Parts 191.23 and 191.25 (gas) and 195.55 (oil), SRCRs must be filed by both gas and oil pipeline operators when certain conditions… Continue Reading

Pre-Construction Notice

Posted in Practice Pointers
Effective Jan. 1, 2012, all liquid and gas pipeline operators must now obtain an Operator Identification (OPID) number.  The forms for doing this are available on PHMSA’s website, and become part of the National Registry of Pipeline and LNG operators.  An operator may use one number for its entire system, or obtain different numbers for… Continue Reading