PHMSA Approval Needed to Restart Texas Eastern Pipeline

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a corrective action order last week to Enbridge Inc., on its Texas Eastern pipeline in Kentucky that was damaged in a blast on Aug. 1. The company has to perform several tasks before the regulator will allow any flows through the blast site, near Danville, Kentucky.

Enbridge said in a release on Friday it was “working diligently to comply with the requirements identified by the PHMSA, and to return to service two adjacent natural gas pipelines near the incident site that were taken out of service as a precautionary safety measure.”

Texas Eastern pipeline system includes three lines, Lines 10, 15 and 25, between its Danville and Tompkinsville compressors in Kentucky that make up its 30-inch system. According to PHMSA, despite the fact that the blast occurred on Line 15, Enbridge could not restart Lines 10 and 25 without further investigation, as the blast might have also damaged Lines 10 and 25.

Enbridge must uncover and inspect parts of the lines and perform mechanical and metallurgical testing, among other things, before restarting gas flows through the blast site, PHMSA said. The blast killed one person, injured at least six other people, destroyed multiple structures and caused a fire that damaged about 30 acres.


PHMSA Files Appeal in Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline Case

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration filed an appeal with the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio. The administration is appealing to rewrite a federal judge’s decision on an oil spill plan for the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith in Detroit had ruled that the documents were incomplete and had criticized the agency for approving the plans. He said PHMSA had failed to conduct environmental reviews and it must take another look at the plans prepared for Enbridge’s Line 5.

The judge called for an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement in defense of the decisions and also ordered the agency to provide more information about its reasons for approving the plans.

Although the plans were filed by Enbridge in 2015 and 2017, the ruling came in connection with a lawsuit filed by the National Wildlife Federation. Line 5 carries 23 million gallons of oil and liquids per day through Michigan on its way from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario.


Natural Gas Pipeline Owners Receives Landslide Warning

An advisory bulletin to remind owners and operators of natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines was issued by The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The notice states the potential for damage to pipelines caused by earth movement from landslides and subsidence in variable, steep and rugged terrain and for varied geological conditions.

“These conditions can pose a threat to the integrity of pipeline facilities if those threats are not identified and mitigated,” PHMSA said. The administration said it was “aware of recent earth movement and other geological-related incidents/accidents and safety-related conditions throughout the country, particularly in the eastern portion of the United States.”

PHSMA advised operators to identify areas that may be prone to large earth movement, utilizing geotechnical engineers during design, construction and operation of pipelines, and developing design, construction, monitoring and mitigation plans for pipelines and to take a series of actions to ensure pipeline safety.

According to PHSMA, flooding, soil erosion and landslides in five states over past three years caused natural gas spills as well as pipeline ruptures. Landslides was blamed for some notable events that included an Energy Transfer Partners pipeline in Western Pennsylvania that slipped and exploded in September and for an explosion on Columbia Gas Transmission LLC’s Leach Xpress in June 2018.


PHMSA and FERC Sign Memorandum of Understanding To Expedite LNG Permit Reviews

A memorandum of understanding to expedite coordination between the U.S. Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the Federal Regulatory Commission during permit application reviews for proposed LNG export facilities has been signed by both parties on August 31.

PHMSA is responsible for standards governing the location and design of LNG facilities while FERC is responsible for determining if the proposed LNG facilities are in the public interest.

The MOU clarifies each agency’s responsibilities related to the application review process for potential LNG projects. PHMSA will encapsulate its findings in a letter of determination, which FERC will accept as the authoritative determination of proposed facility’s ability to comply with safety regulations.

“PHMSA’s LNG safety experts are fully prepared to analyze current and future project proposals, evaluate their potential impact on public safety, and reduce barriers to moving these projects forward,” PHMSA Administrator Skip Elliott said.

The agreement also refines information-sharing practices between the agencies. This includes documents, information, and data submitted by facility applicants, Elliot said.

Once FERC receives a determination letter, it will consider PHMSA’s findings in deciding whether an LNG export project is in the public interest. “FERC is pleased to collaborate with PHMSA to better leverage each agency’s expertise and to process LNG applications in the safest and most efficient way possible,” said FERC Chairman Kevin J. McIntyre.

Oil & Gas Journal

Keystone Pipeline Investigation to Occur after Potential Issues

TransCanada is digging up a portion of the Keystone Pipeline in South Dakota after an inspection showed potential issues with the pipeline coating.

The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration ordered the energy company to conduct an inspection in a route north of Britton, said a spokesman for the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources. He added that there weren’t any reported leaks.

TransCanada spokesman said that crews were conducting “standard monitoring and inspections” of the 2,600-mile crude oil pipeline that stretches from Alberta, Canada, to Oklahoma and Illinois.

The pipeline section being investigated is about 15 miles north of where a crack last year caused an estimated 407,000 gallons of oil spillage in an area near Amherst in Marshall County, making it the seventh-largest onshore oil or petroleum product spill since 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The origin of the crack was likely from mechanical damage to the pipe exterior caused from a metal-tracked vehicle during installation.

Seattle Pi

Leach Xpress Natural Gas Pipeline Receives Approval, Returns to Service

TransCanada Corp’s Columbia Gas Transmission said that the section of its Leach Xpress natural gas pipeline that was damaged in June’s West Virginia blast returned to service July 15th after permission given by PHMSA. 

The return means that gas output in the Appalachian region will be boosted with the expected production rising to 28.7 billion cubic feet per day on Monday from 28.1 bcfd on Friday.

Prior to the June 7th blast, output was about 27.5 bcfd.

PHMSA gave Columbia 30 days to respond to a list of concerns that would improve the safety of the Leach Xpress including mechanical and metallurgical testing as well as enhanced surveillance and monitoring, among other actions required.

Since the blast, Columbia identified six other areas that PHMSA said were concerning based on soil conditions and steep slopes. The soil condition was the cause of a landslide that put stress on the pipelines resulting in a blast, according to preliminary investigations.

Shutting down the Leach Xpress forced producers to find other pipes to ship gas out of Marcellus and Utica shale regions of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio.

The blast damaged sections of the pipe that could affect 1.3 billion cubic feet per day, which is enough energy to fuel more than 5 million U.S. homes a day.

Energy analysts said that the blast hardly affected Appalachian region’s overall output because of other pipes being found by different producers.


Leach Xpress NatGas Pipeline to Return to Service July 15

TransCanada Corp’s Columbia Gas Transmission has announced July 15 as the date it expects its Leach Xpress natural gas pipeline to resume service after it was damaged in a blast in West Virginia on June 7.

Federal pipeline safety regulators will first need to approve the returning service, Columbia Gas Transmission said in a Thursday notice given out to customers using the pipeline.

PHMSA gave Columbia 30 days to respond to a list of concerns that would improve the safety of the Leach Xpress. Those actions included mechanical and metallurgical testing as well as enhanced surveillance and monitoring, among other actions required.

Since the blast, Columbia identified six other areas that PHMSA said were concerning based on soil conditions and steep slopes. The soil condition was the cause of a landslide that put stress on the pipelines resulting in a blast, according to preliminary investigations.

Shutting down the Leach Xpress forced producers to find other pipes to ship gas out of Marcellus and Utica shale regions of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio.

The blast damaged sections of the pipe that could affect 1.3 billion cubic feet per day, which is enough energy to fuel more than 5 million U.S. homes a day.

Energy analysts said that the blast hardly affected Appalachian region’s overall output because of other pipes being found by different producers.



PHMSA Clarifies New Rules on Pipeline Operational Status

PHMSA on Monday posted an advisory bulletin that clarifies new rules relating to pipeline operational status, tightening controls on pipeline operators.

As noted in the PIPES Act of 2016, PHMSA is clarifying new rules that target abandon pipelines that formerly carried hazardous liquid, carbon dioxide, and gas. Before abandoning a pipeline, the owner or operator must “purge all combustibles and seal any facilities left in place,” according to the statement.

PHMSA regulations define “abandoned” to mean permanently removed from service. If a pipeline is not properly abandoned and may be used in the future for transportation of hazardous liquid or gas, PHMSA regulations consider it as an active pipeline, according to the statement.

"Owners and operators of pipelines that are not operating but contain hazardous liquids and gas must comply with all applicable safety requirements, including periodic maintenance, integrity management assessments, damage prevention programs, response planning, and public awareness programs."

PHMSA said it is considering proposing procedures in a future rulemaking that would address methods operators could use to notify regulators of purged but active pipelines.

"To the extent feasible, owners and operators have a responsibility to assure facilities for which they are responsible or last owned do not present a hazard to people, property or the environment,” the agency wrote in its advisory bulletin.

The issuance goes into effect immediately.

Federal Register

PHMSA Orders Spectra Energy to Conduct Additional Pipeline Tests After Salem Township Explosion

April 29, 2016 Natural Gas Explosion in Salem Township, Pennsylvania -- photo from ABC News

April 29, 2016 Natural Gas Explosion in Salem Township, Pennsylvania -- photo from ABC News

PHMSA released on Tuesday an Amended Corrective Action Order to Spectra Energy’s subsidiary Texas Eastern Transmission requesting additional corrective actions regarding the pipeline section that failed on April 29, 2016 in Salem Township, Pennsylvania.

The federal agency is ordering the natural gas pipeline company to conduct additional assessments on three lines, including one that has corrosion similar to a fourth line that blew up in April. PHMSA stated that the other lines in Salem Township “potentially have been damaged or adversely affected” by the April explosion. The new assessments could potentially lead to pipeline upgrades.

Spectra Spokesman Creighton Welch said that the PHMSA order is “well-aligned” with Spectra’s plans to improve its Penn-Jersey pipeline system and that many items recommended in the order are already completed or in progress.

The pipeline that failed in April of this year is a 30-inch diameter line that transports natural gas from the Delmont Compressor Station in Salem Township, Pennsylvania, to the Lambertville Station.

PHMSA Amended Corrective Action Order

PHMSA Awards $1.5 Million in Grants to States for Damage Prevention Programs


The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) on Thursday announced nearly $1.5 million in grants to 18 states to support pipeline damage prevention.

These safety grants are awarded annually and are used to strengthen a state’s efforts in addressing pipeline failures attributed to activities like excavation, a leading cause of pipeline accidents resulting in injury or fatality. The grants are also used to help states establish needed prevention programs.

According to the PHMSA announcement, excavation damage has resulted in over 33 human fatalities, 144 injuries, and over $249 million in property damage nationwide since 2006. The safety grants allow states to continue implementing the nine elements of an effective damage prevention program, outlined in the Pipeline Inspection, Protection, Enforcement and Safety Act of 2006.

PHMSA awards damage prevention grants to state authorities where its governor has deemed the authority to be an eligible recipient. Applications are reviewed by PHMSA to determine its relevance to the nine elements of an effective damage prevention program, among other criteria, before the administration grants the recipient an amount of up to $100,000.

To view the 2016 damage prevention grant award recipients, click here.


PHMSA Proposes a Civil Penalty of Over $1 Million to Sunoco


PHMSA on Friday issued a Notice of Probable Violation (NOPV) and Proposed Compliance Order, and proposed $1,539,800 in civil penalties after its investigation that the operator allegedly failed to report an accident that occurred in 2013 at the West Texas Gulf Pipeline Company’s facility in Wortham, Texas, wholly owned by Sunoco Logistics Partners. 

The PHMSA Southwest Region Office of Pipeline Safety received an information request on March 4, 2015 for an alleged event at the West Texas Gulf Pipeline Company facility operated by Sunoco. The alleged accident was said to have occurred while Sunoco and its contractors were performing pipeline modifications at the facility, which resulted in a release of 0.1 barrels of crude oil and an injury that required hospitalization in February of 2013.

The PHMSA SW Region followed the information request with an investigation of the alleged accident and found 15 violations of the pipeline safety regulations related to the accident.

Read the enforcement documents resulting from the investigation here.


PHMSA Awards States More Than $49 Million in Pipeline Safety Grants

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration announced on July 1 that it has awarded more than $49 million in Pipeline Safety Base Grants to reimburse a part of operating costs for state pipeline safety programs.

States charged with inspecting intrastate transmission and distribution pipelines that transport crude oil, natural gas, or other energy products within state lines receive a reimbursement of up to 80 percent of operating costs. The grants also include a maintenance of effort clause that requires each state to contribute the average of its last three years of contributions unless the state is unable to provide the contribution due to economic hardship, which the state must be able to demonstrate.

“The Federal/state partnership is the cornerstone of the national pipeline safety program,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx according to the PHMSA brief. “State pipeline inspectors oversee more than 80 percent of the nation’s 2.6 million-mile pipeline network, and we want to make sure they have the resources needed to ensure the safety of the American people.”

These grants provide funding for state programs that employ 340 or more pipeline safety inspectors. The grants are performance-based and are given based on the individual state’s estimated program costs and recent performance scores.

To view the recipients and grant amounts for the 2016 Natural Gas Pipeline State Base Grant and the 2016 Hazardous Liquid Pipeline State Base Grant, click here.


PHMSA Seeks Public Comments on Carbon Dioxide Pipeline Regulation

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is seeking comments on its report called “Background for Regulating the Transportation of Carbon Dioxide in a Gaseous State,” which the public can find in the docket at PHMSA-2016-0049.

As stated in section 15 of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011, PHMSA is required to set minimum pipeline safety standards for the transportation of carbon dioxide in a gaseous state.

Because PHMSA does not currently regulate pipelines that carry carbon dioxide, it has limited ability to reach out and locate operators of gaseous carbon dioxide pipelines and is uncertain if its current information is comprehensive.

PHMSA encourages comments on its report in order to better understand the possible effects of the regulatory scenarios presented within the report, as well as where carbon dioxide pipelines are located. The public will be able to comment for 30 days, the period ending July 27.

Visit the Federal Register to learn more about how to submit comments.

Federal Register

President Obama Signs New Pipeline Safety Bill into Law

By Pete Souza, The Obama-Biden Transition Project -, CC BY 3.0,

President Barack Obama signed into law on June 21 the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2016, which sailed quickly through the House and Senate earlier this month.

The legislation is the result of bipartisan work from the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee, and its purpose is to reform the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to increase efficiency and transparency.

Under the PIPES Act, PHMSA is required to set federal minimum safety standards for underground natural gas storage facilities, above which states have the ability to set higher standards for intrastate requirements.

The law also increases inspection requirements for certain underwater oil pipelines as well as updates regulations for certain LNG facilities to keep in line with changing technology and markets.

Along with granting emergency order authority tailored for pipelines, the PIPES Act creates a working group of safety officials and industry stakeholders to put together recommendations for creating an information sharing system to improve safety outcomes. PHMSA also has the authority to study the feasibility of a national integrated pipeline safety database to better oversee federal and state safety efforts.

“We came together, Republicans and Democrats, to improve pipeline safety, and we got the job done with this important law. Every day, American families and businesses depend on safe and efficient energy transportation. The PIPES Act will ensure that our nation’s 2.6 million miles of pipelines continue to provide critical access to energy, and we are proud of the bipartisan work that made this effort a success,” sponsors of the House of the original House legislation responded after the bill became law.

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

PHMSA Issues Third Amendment to Corrective Action Order for Santa Barbara Oil Spill

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHSMA) on Thursday issued a third amendment to the Corrective Action Order (CAO) for the Santa Barbara crude oil leak. The CAO was issued to Plains All American Pipeline as a result of the May 2015 pipeline failure in Santa Barbara, California that released approximately 2,934 barrels of crude oil.

The third amendment instructs Plains All American to complete a number of corrective actions before PHMSA will approve the restart of the failed pipeline and an adjoining pipeline. The company is required to implement tools for advanced leak detection, install more safety valves and pressure sensors, create a long-term plan for corrosion prevention, and update its Facility Response Plan for the failed and adjoining pipelines before restarting.

PHMSA is also sending out an advisory bulletin to operators around the nation to assist in informing lessons learned from the Santa Barbara oil spill.

Read the amended CAO.


Pipeline Safety Bill Sent to White House

By Kevin McCoy, CC BY-SA 2.0,

The US Senate unanimously approved the amended federal pipeline safety bill PIPES Act of 2016 on Monday and sent it to the President’s desk for signature. The Senate made its vote just four days after the bill was approved in the House.

The Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act reauthorizes the federal pipeline safety program within PHMSA through fiscal 2019. Moreover, it ensures that PHMSA will carry out the rest of its safety directives given in the expired pipeline safety program of 2011.

According to the PIPES Act 2016 summary given by the Energy & Commerce and Transport & Infrastructure Committees, the bill “reforms PHMSA to be a more dynamic, data-driven regulator and provides regulatory certainty for citizens, the safety community, and the industry.”

President of American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Chet Thompson warned that Congress should continue to “conduct vigilant oversight to ensure PHMSA’s new authorities are not abused” now that they will be given a wide-range emergency authority.

“In giving PHMSA wide-ranging emergency order authority that, if used improperly, has the potential for severe disruptions for businesses and consumers, Congress must now carefully monitor its actions to avoid agency overreach, which could inhibit the energy industry’s ability to provide affordable and abundant fuel in a safe and reliable manner,” he added.

Pipelines are one of the safest modes of transportation for energy commodities, resulting in successful transportation 99.999% of the time. They are the critical link to connect oil and gas resources to consumers around the world.

PIPES Act 2016 Summary

House Passes Bipartisan PIPES Act of 2016

PIPES ACT of 2016 Banner from

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday unanimously approved bipartisan PIPES Act of 2016 to increase pipeline safety, enhance safety oversight efforts, and provide stricter regulations in transporting energy commodities.

The Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety (PIPES) Act of 2016 is a product of both the Transportation & Infrastructure and Energy & Commerce Committees who collaborated text from separate bills passed out of each of the committees in April.

The legislation will improve the safety of the pipeline infrastructure and bring needed reform within the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which will require the agency to be even more efficient and data-driven.

The bill will also reauthorize the federal pipeline safety program within PHMSA for four years, require updates to safety regulations and the increase in transparency, and speed up the process of completing outstanding safety requirements included in the 2011 authorization.

The legislation is awaiting Senate approval and movement toward the President’s desk.

Read the bill summary here.

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

PHMSA Provides Useful Tools for National Safety Month

June is National Safety Month, and PHMSA is providing resources that will help keep safety at the forefront of the pipeline industry. National Safety Month focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the roads, and in homes and communities, according to the National Safety Council. While pipeline safety—and all safety—should be closely regarded every month of the year, PHMSA has used this awareness to push forward safety guidelines for the pipeline industry and communities relating to the pipeline industry:

Safe Transportation of Energy Products (STEP) is the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) system-wide approach to improving safety efforts regarding shipments of hazardous materials throughout the U.S.

Call Before You Dig is a federal service designed to help contractors, homeowners, and landowners avoid excavation that could damage vital utilities lying underground. This organization encourages anyone intending to dig to call 811 first in order to prevent unintended consequences.

Safe Travel provides a list of tips that include the handling and transporting of hazardous materials. Although Safe Travel is a resourceful tool, it is not intended to substitute for PHMSA regulations if any differences occur. In other words, PHMSA regulations always take precedence.

National Pipeline Mapping System is a database that contains locations of and information about gas transmission and hazardous liquid pipelines and LNG plants that are under the jurisdiction of PHMSA. This data is used by PHMSA for emergency response, pipeline inspections, regulatory management and compliance, and analysis purposes.

For more information about safety resources and National Safety Month, visit

National Safety Council

PHMSA Extends Comment Period for Proposed Rulemaking of Safer Natural Gas Transmission Pipelines

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration announced that it is extending the comment period on the proposed natural gas transmission rule by 30 days. The original comment period that would expire June 7, 2016 is now extended to July 7, 2016 due to several requests for the extension.

The proposed regulations, made available to the public in the Federal Register on March 17, 2016, bring to light the needs of America’s natural gas pipeline system and provide integral measures to better ensure the safety of communities living near pipeline infrastructure and protect the environment.

The rulemaking process starts with Federal agencies such as PHMSA, but it cannot move forward without carefully considered input from the public and key collaborators who provide important and unique perspectives on the proposed rulemaking.

A formal notice of the comment extension has been published in the Federal Register. For more information about the proposed rulemaking or how to comment, visit

Read more from the source:
U.S. Department of Transportation

Pipeline Advisory Committees to Vote on Proposed Rulemakings

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced May 12 that its Pipeline Advisory Committees will meet June 1-3 in Arlington, Virginia to vote on proposed rulemakings that would strengthen federal pipeline safety programs if passed.

The three-day public meeting will comprise of the Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee (GPAC) and the Liquid Pipeline Advisory Committee (LPAC) who will come together to discuss the proposed rulemakings to strengthen pipeline safety. The groups will also discuss sections 9 (accident and incident reporting) and 13 (cost recovery for design-review work) of the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011.

PHMSA is advised by both GPAC and LPAC on proposed safety standards and also encourages the public to make statements during the committee meetings. Information on how to participate and send in statements is available on the PHMSA website.

Read more from the source: