September 2020, Vol. 247, No. 9


PHMSA Ratifies Industry Requestion MAOP

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a final rule in mid-July granting transmission pipelines the changes they requested after publication of a big final rule last October titled, “Safety of Gas Transmission Pipelines: MAOP Reconfirmation, Expansion of Assessment Requirements, and Other Related Amendments.” 

After that rule was published, a number of industry groups asked for the agency to reconsider a couple of key provisions, especially the one requiring companies to reconfirm maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) in certain circumstances, which says operators do not have to reconfirm MAOP of pipeline segments if they have traceable, verifiable and complete pressure test records.

The October 2019 gas transmission rule focused on the actions that operators must take to reconfirm the MAOP of previously untested natural gas transmission pipelines and pipelines lacking certain material or operational records. It also required operators to gather any necessary material property records needed to substantiate the MAOP is not traceable, verifiable and complete. 

Examples of the records necessary to confirm MAOP include pressure test records or material property records that verify the MAOP is appropriate for the class location. On Oct. 31, the American Public Gas Association (APGA), American Gas Association (AGA), INGAA, and American Petroleum Institute (API) submitted a petition for reconsideration of the MAOP provisions in that rule. 

Although PHMSA confirmed that distribution pipelines were not subject to the MAOP requirements, it published a separate proposed rule in June 2020 that would make changes to the Distribution Integrity Management Program (DIMP). 

It would give operators of farm taps originating from regulated source pipelines a choice between inspecting pressure regulators pursuant to their DIMP or using pressure regulators to be tested at least once every three calendar years. Taps originating from unregulated gathering and production pipelines and master meter operators would be exempt from DIMP and incident reporting requirements. 

In addition to the DIMP proposals, the proposed rule includes a provision applicable to all gas pipelines: the increase of the property damage threshold associated with a reportable “incident” from the existing $50,000 to $122,000.

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