This week the Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee (GPAC) held its meeting on proposed Gas Gathering rulemaking, otherwise known as the third part of the “Mega Rule”. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHSMA) officials and members of the GPAC, including government officials, industry representatives, and members of the public, convened in Washington, D.C. in order to discuss. The purpose of the GPAC is to make recommendations to PHMSA who will then take those recommendations into consideration while it finalizes regulatory language. Topics included:
Basis for Rulemaking – The group discussed the guiding principles behind the rulemaking, considering pipeline diameter vs pipeline pressure, presence of people, incident history, and impacts on safety, among other things.
PHMSA Suggestions – The GPAC heard PHMSA’s recommendations for consideration for each portion of potential gas gathering regulations as presented in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) Pipeline Safety: Safety of Gas Transmission and Gathering Pipelines. For more information on this rulemaking click here.
Existing Rulemaking and Process – The GPAC touched on the rulemaking process to date as well as the existing rules. They also presented an estimate of the total mileage likely to be affected by increased regulation.
Proposed Gas Gathering Rulemaking – The GPAC summarized the current proposed regulation and heard and responded to public comments. The committee considered the comments and heard feedback from PHMSA before voting on four areas of rulemaking:
1. Reporting for All Gas Gathering (regulated or otherwise)
• Required OPID and Annual Reports (OPID, mileage of size, material, operating pressure, Cathodic Protection, overpressure protection, damage prevention, and leaks and ruptures).
• Required Incident Reports.
• No Safety-Related Condition reporting.
• There are no proposed changes to reporting requirements for currently regulated gathering lines.
2. Gas Gathering Line Definition
• PHMSA withdrew the proposal to eliminate the use of American Petroleum Institute (API) Recommended Practice (RP) 80, Guidance for the Definition of Onshore Gas Gathering Lines (API RP 80) for the definition of gathering lines.
• API is updating API RP 80 and should have a revised version by the end of the year.
• The definition will remain unchanged until a future code update incorporates the new version of API RP 80 by reference or the language is incorporated directly into the code.
• It was also noted that API is in the process of developing API RP 1182, Safety Provisions for Large Diameter Rural Gas Gathering Lines, as a complimentary guidance document to API RP 80.
3. Gas Gathering New Regulatory Threshold – As anticipated, this was a highly debated topic and the Committee was unable to reach conclusive language for adoption. Instead, the Committee was able to agree on some key principles as guidance for PHMSA to draft regulatory language. This will also be noted as an iterative process, meaning we could see additional requirements in the future.
Current takeaways include:
• ≥ 8-inch pipelines – Set a regulatory minimum including key requirements such as damage prevention; line markers; public awareness; design, installation, construction, inspection and testing of new lines; and emergency plans. Leak surveys and repairs were debated topics under this size category.
• > 12.75-inch pipelines – if the pipeline meets a certain Pipeline Impact Radius (PIR) threshold (calculated considering diameter and pressure) there could be additional safety requirements beyond those listed above.
• PHMSA needs to draft language addressing composite pipe.
4. Safety Requirements for Newly Regulated Gathering Lines – The Committee discussed these potential safety requirements prior to the discussion detailed in Number 3, Gas Gathering New Regulatory Threshold. During this discussion, it was still assumed all newly regulated gathering pipelines would be handled the same, regardless of size. Therefore, Elemental is providing a high- level summary, but cannot say for certain how the detailed requirements of the NPRM will be parsed out for the proposed size categories of newly regulated gas gathering pipelines.
• Compliance timeframes – 2 years for applicability determination, 3 years for compliance with safety requirements, and MAOP determination (based on a 5-year operating pressure history).
• New gas gathering pipelines will be subject to design, construction, inspection, and testing requirements. Determining how to address repairs on existing lines is still under debate.
• Hold PHMSA to a 90-day timeframe for composite approvals, if a letter is not received from PHMSA denying permission or asking for more time, the operator may assume they can proceed with the composite installation.
Including gas gathering pipelines in the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS) was repeatedly discussed. However, PHMSA’s preliminary determination was the Agency does not currently have the authority to require gathering line data be reported to the NPMS. This topic will be discussed further at the next GPAC meeting.
Slides from the meeting and the recording of the webcast can be found here. The next GPAC meeting is scheduled for mid-November 2019. Until then, stay tuned to Elemental Compliance’s LinkedIn page and blog for regulatory updates.
For updates on the above topics and other state and federal regulatory initiatives, follow Elemental Compliance on LinkedIn, or watch for our blogs at www.ElementalCompliance.com.