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.  The IFR addresses construction, maintenance, risk management and integrity management procedures for these facilities and incorporates the requirements of recent API industry Recommended Practices (RPs) 1170 for salt caverns storing natural gas and 1171 for storage in depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs and aquifer reservoirs.  In addition, the IFR requires underground gas storage operators to prepare and file annual reports, incident reports, safety-related condition repairs and register their facilities in the PHMSA operator registry.

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