It seems that every week there is another pipeline safety proposal, pipeline incident or other news regarding pipeline regulation. The recently released 500 plus page safety proposal from the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). PHMSA would assert that the regulations simply codifies what pipeline operators already do in the normal course of business. However, industry would likely disagree.
For example, the new regulation proposes that an additional classified area be defined which would add Medium Consequence Areas (MCA) to the current High Consequence Area (HCA) classification. At present, about 21,000 miles of transmission pipeline is located in HCAs. PHMSA estimates that the addition of the MCA classification would add 41,000 miles of pipe. And this is just one example.
The June issue of Pipeline and Gas Journal includes an article entitled, “Federal Regulator Eyes New Rules for Gas Gathering Lines” (https://pgjonline.com/2016/06/01/federal-regulator-eyes-new-rules-for-gas-gathering-lines/). I suspect most would agree that while we don’t know when gathering will be under the same regulations as transmission and distribution, the outcome is all but inevitable.
We are aggressively looking to create tools and system that enable pipeline operators to adapt to these new requirements as we be that ultimately, the companies that can economically incorporate business practices will not only improve safety, but will also operate more effectively.
For more information about the PHMSA extending the comment period, refer to the following article.