Cheniere’s Sabine Pass Storage Tanks Shut Down

Recently, two Louisiana Sabine LNG storage tanks leaked on the Sabine Pass export terminal. Consequentially, U.S. Energy and safety regulators, such as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), denied authorization for Cheniere Energy Inc. to return these tanks back to service.

Discovered on January 22, 2018 by some plant workers was a 1 to 6 foot long crack in one tank leaking into an outer layer. Cheniere’s two tanks were quickly shut down by PHMSA on February 8, 2018 and they were told by agencies that any service returned to a tank before safety requirements were met would be at their own risk.

While Cheniere agreed in April of 2018 that they would begin correcting issues, regulators have reported that the company has “failed to comply" in some instances of testing equipment and providing documentation.

Cheniere claims they have “been responsive and forthcoming throughout this process and will continue to be,” and they “will provide a formal response” to the claims agencies have made about them.

In order for Cheniere to return the tanks to service, a structural re-inspection of all five LNG storage tanks in Sabine, capable of holding 17 bcf, and an installation of specific devices to alert them of leaks is required.

Source: Reuters

Report: PHMSA Needs to Improve Safety at NatGas Storage Sites

PHMSA is struggling to inspect natural gas storage sites and uphold other standards on facilities, said the General Accountability Office (GAO) in a report on Friday.

A law signed last year by former President Obama after a months-long leak at California's Aliso Canyon underground storage plant required that PHMSA set safety standards at the storage sites by June 2018.

PHMSA set an interim rule that took effect in early 2017 based on practices by the American Petroleum Institute, but the GAO still found that inspections on the sites were lacking.

Democratic Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas said she worried that inspection lags on the 415 gas storage sites across the country combined with delays in complying with new safety standards could put public health and safety at risk.

The GAO said PHMSA concurred with its recommendations, such as defining levels of performance and improving inspections.


Colorado Proposes Plan to Fine Excavators Up to $75,000 For Failure to Call 811 Before Digging

Colorado lawmakers are proposing a plan to organize a commission that would investigate and fine those responsible for damages to gas pipelines due to digging.

As concerns over gas pipeline safety in the state continue to grow, a group of bipartisan legislators are proposing to impose fines of up to $75,000 for violations of the state's 811 call system, which requires excavators to call 811 before digging to learn potential nearby locations of underground piping and other infrastructure.

Lawmakers that support the plan argue that the safety of the public is at stake, and changes are needed to stop excavators who repeatedly ignore "common-sense safety" by not calling 811.

The proposal would also help Colorado avoid a loss in federal grants for pipeline safety programs from PHMSA. PHMSA in 2016 found Colorado's pipeline excavation damage prevention laws inadequate, saying the state had until 2020 to fix its program before possibly losing 4 percent in its federal grants.

The proposed plan would create a 12-member commission made up of local public officials, pipeline operators and owners, and excavators. The commission would review complaints and impose penalties ranging from $250 to $75,000.

Denver Post

PHMSA Issuing Hazardous Materials Training Grants Totaling $23.8 Million

PHMSA announced Thursday that it is issuing three hazardous materials training related grants totaling $23.8 million as part of its approach to improve the safe transportation of hazardous materials across the U.S.

PHMSA is issuing $20.4 million in Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness grants to provide funding to states, territories, and Native American tribes to enhance the abilities of their emergency response personnel in protecting themselves and others when responding to hazardous materials related transportation incidents.

PHMSA is issuing $2.4 million in Assistance for Local Emergency Response Training grants, which offer resources to non-profit organizations to train emergency responders to safely respond to rail accidents.

The remaining $1 million is being issued in Community Safety Training grants to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance to help train state and local personnel responsible for enforcing the safe transportation of hazardous materials.

"These grants are another important resource PHMSA offers communities and response officials to educate, plan, and stay prepared for transportation incidents, including those involving high-hazard flammable trains," said PHMSA's Acting Administrator Drue Pearce.


PHMSA Director Nominee Seeks New Technology, Faster Hiring Process Within the Agency

Nominee Howard "Skip" Elliott said he would focus on new technology, first responders' needs, and faster hiring if he were confirmed as the next director of PHMSA, he told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on Wednesday.

Elliott, a 40-year veteran of the U.S. freight rail industry, was nominated for the key leadership position by President Trump earlier this month.

Elliott told the panel that he had seen how much technology improved the safety and efficiency of the rail industry and would be interested in exploring how technology could be deployed to improve safety on pipelines.

Elliott also told the panel that he would improve transparency with first responders to enhance their capabilities and, as a result, improve safety.

During his opening statement for the hearing on his nomination, Elliott mentioned he would seek to shorten the hiring process within PHMSA to quickly fill open positions.

He also said he would work to peel back each PHMSA regulation to find those that deliver the greatest safety measures to the public and pipeline operators and work hard to get those rules in place.

Elliot has a strong support system within the industry, with groups like the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America and the American Petroleum Institute praising Elliott for his railroad history and experience with hazardous materials.


Trump Announces Nominee for Key PHMSA Leadership Position

President Trump announced nominees for key leadership positions, including a lead administrator for the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Howard Elliott of Indiana.

Elliott is a 40-year veteran of the U.S. freight rail industry and has served as group vice president of Public Safety, Health, Environment, and Security for CSX Transportation in Jacksonville, Florida for the last decade.

Elliott's responsibilities have included hazardous materials transportation safety, homeland security, railroad policing, crisis management, environmental compliance and operations, occupational health management and continuity of business operations.

Elliott is also a pioneer and leading advocate in developing and implementing computer-based tools to assist personnel in preparing for and responding to a railroad hazardous materials or security incident, according to a White House statement.

Transport Topics

Senate Bills Require Stricter Great Lakes Oil Pipeline Standards

New laws proposed in the U.S. Senate would mean more liability standards for oil pipelines that cross the Great Lakes, like Enbridge's controversial Line 5 oil pipeline that moves oil 1,098 miles from western Canada to eastern Canada.

The legislation was introduced Wednesday by Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. Peters and Stabenow say the bills are intended to boost safety of pipelines that are in or near the Great Lakes.

Onshore pipelines do not have stringent of liability standards as offshore pipelines, and because pipelines that cross portions of the lakes are considered "onshore," the bills would change that and require operators to cover all oil spill cleanup costs should they occur.

The bills would also strengthen federal authority to shut pipelines due to dangerous conditions, require more review of spill response plans, and increase public access to information on the pipelines.


Report: Pipeline Incidents in 2016 Fell 10 Percent from Previous Year

The number of crude oil and petroleum pipeline accidents in the U.S. fell 10 percent in 2016 from the previous year according to a report put forth on Monday by the American Petroleum Institute and Association of Oil Pipe Lines.

The groups' combined 2017-19 Pipeline Safety Excellence Strategic Plan and 2016 Performance Report is aimed toward industry-wide improvement efforts, including advances in pipeline safety technology, better communicating with stakeholders and the public, strengthening emergency preparedness and response planning, and adopting holistic pipeline safety management practices.

In their report, the groups wrote that pipeline operators will identify emerging trends based on their annual performance and data associated with the industry-wide improvement efforts to focus their attention on areas where they will have the most impact on safety.

Through the three-year plan, a strategic planning team will review the plan each year and adjust it where needed to maintain direction and provide a way to track and measure performance, they said.

Performance measures will be fully implemented in 2018, according to the report.

Oil & Gas Journal

PHMSA Completes Long Awaited Rulemaking that Increases Pipeline Safety Standards

PHMSA on Friday announced the signing of a long awaited rulemaking that implements critical safety improvements for onshore hazardous liquid pipelines, a rulemaking that the agency called one of its "top priorities" for rulemakings in 2016.

The use of hazardous liquid pipelines in the U.S. continues to increase, causing communities to demand "regulatory certainty" relating to pipeline safety. U.S. Secretary Anthony Foxx said "this rule gives operators clear direction on the design, construction, and operation" of these pipelines and holds operators "accountable for the safety of the communities they serve."

According to PHMSA's statement, the new rule better standardizes how operators repair aging pipelines and high-risk infrastructure. The rule also improves the quality and frequency of the assessments of pipeline conditions.

PHMSA is also pushing operators to invest in increased data capabilities and to continue improving processes that mitigate risk, said PHMSA Administrator Marie Dominguez.

Operators will have to conduct integrity assessments on pipelines outside HCAs (high-consequence areas) at least once every 10 years and also extend reporting requirements to gathering lines, which are not currently regulated by PHMSA.

The rule adds that pipeline operators must have a system for detecting leaks and an established timeline for inspecting affected pipelines after extreme weather conditions or natural disasters, allowing operators to quickly identify potential damage and prevent incidents.

The final rulemaking is awaiting publication in the Federal Register. Once it is published, the rule will take six months to go into effect.

Yahoo News
State Impact Pennsylvania

SoCalGas to Use Fiber Optic Technology to Prevent Pipeline Damage, Incidents in Real Time

Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) is using fiber optic cable technology that will monitor its gas pipeline system in real time, detecting impacts and leaks and sending those detections across long distances within seconds.

The technology consists of fiber optic strands that are used to continuously monitor things like abnormal stress, movement, or temperature conditions that are present and helps to prevent damage from those threats. Any detection will be sent along the fiber cable to a remote monitoring system that can then locate a problem within 20 feet.

This technology allows for quicker response time from first responders. They will be able to plan more thoroughly, allocate resources, and effectively take action to mitigate leaks or possible leaks.

The severity of the threat to the pipeline is determined by light variation, which is signaled when the fiber optic cable is exposed to vibration, stress, or sudden change in temperature. These light signals help responders distinguish major versus minor threats, such as heavy equipment use near the pipeline versus routine traffic near the pipeline.

SoCalGas will install this new technology along all of its new and replacement pipeline segments that are at least 12 inches in diameter and at least one mile long.

Senior vice president of gas operations and system integrity Jimmie Cho says this technology is "game-changing" and will help "keep our communities safe and allow us to more quickly address accidental dig-ins by third-party contractors and service outages that happen every year."


Local Authorities: Mandatory Evacuation of Pipeline Protest Camp Comes from Spirit of Public Safety, Supplies to Not be Blocked

November, 2016: Protestors fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline camp at the Oceti Sakowin camp in southern North Dakota. Photo by  Bill Roach

November, 2016: Protestors fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline camp at the Oceti Sakowin camp in southern North Dakota. Photo by Bill Roach

North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple corrected media reports on Wednesday by stating publicly that the state would not be blocking supplies to protestors at a campsite near the Dakota Access Pipeline route despite an emergency evacuation order of the area.

Dalrymple told reporters there was a miscommunication earlier in the week that led to statements saying local officials would block supplies coming to the protestors at the Oceti Sakowin camp in North Dakota, just south of the location where the Dakota Access Pipeline would travel under the Missouri River.

Last week the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent a letter to the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe issuing an emergency evacuation of the camp and advising all tribe members and other protestors to leave the area by December 5. However, the Corps also stated it would not forcibly remove protestors and that anyone who decides to stay on the land does so at his or her own risk.

Blocking supplies from the protestors at the camp would be “a huge mistake,” Dalrymple told reporters. Rather, he said the emergency evacuation order issued by the Corps and supported by the state is to protect those at the campsite from dangerous weather conditions.

The emergency evacuation order comes from the spirit of public safety, says a Morton County Sheriff spokesperson. The weather conditions are severe as more than a foot of snow has already fallen in the area this week. Many protestors at the camp are inexperienced with such weather conditions, and Dalyrmple stated that it could be difficult for emergency responders to get to the area to “do a rescue” should a person get hurt.

The mandatory evacuation starts December 5, and it is unclear how the deadline to leave will affect the campsite since authorities have stated they will not forcibly remove protestors.


Educational Event to Address Safety Concerns About Enbridge Line 5



The Lyric Theater in Harbor Springs, Michigan is hosting an educational symposium event to address the safety of Enbridge’s controversial Line 5 twin pipelines that run under the Straits of Mackinac.

Line 5 has been in safe operation underneath the Straits since 1953 and has not yet experienced a leak. In recent years, however, environmentalists and other communities have been skeptical of the pipeline’s integrity and have voiced their concerns about its safety.

At the event, which will be hosted October 12 at 7:00pm, individuals and groups will hear from a retired chemical engineer, environmental attorney, and other speakers about various topics surrounding the twin oil pipelines.

Other topics that will be mentioned at the event include the state of Michigan’s energy economy, regulatory standards, and assessments of oil spill response plans.

Petoskey News

Enbridge Agrees to Pay $177 Million in Fines and Safety Improvements for Michigan Oil Spill

Updated July 22, 2016, at 11:00am

2010 Kalamazoo River Oil Spill via

2010 Kalamazoo River Oil Spill via

After multiple extensions for negotiating a fine for the 2010 Kalamazoo River disaster, the U.S. Department of Justice Environmental Protection Agency and Enbridge settled at $177 million, announced on Wednesday.

Under the settlement, Enbridge agreed to pay $62 million in fines for violating the Clean Water Act, which is the largest fine for a pipeline spill ever under that law, according to Bloomberg. The company will also spend $110 million in steps toward improving pipeline operations and to prevent future spills across its 2,000-mile span of pipelines near the Great Lakes. Enbridge is also required to replace nearly 300 miles of one of the lines, according to its deal with the EPA. Finally, Enbridge will pay $5.4 million to reimburse the government for cleanup costs.

“Financial accountability is very important. It is something that we take very seriously,” said US Attorney Patrick Miles. “We also want to make sure that we don’t have a recurrence of these types of events. So prevention, detection, and repair are also critical in these matters. And so that is something that this consent decree does and addresses, and my office is very pleased with this solution.”

Enbridge has already paid $57.8 million for reimbursements of cleanup costs for the spill, agreed to pay $75 million in settle claims pursued by the state of Michigan, and spent more than $800 million cleaning up the accident.

In 2010, Enbridge’s Line 6B failed and sent more than 20,000 barrels of oil into the Kalamazoo River as a result of the rupture. The accident is one of the largest inland spills in U.S. history. After 22 months of cleanup work, the Kalamazoo River reopened for recreational use.

The settlement agreement has a 30-day public comment period.

Wood TV 8

Kinder Morgan Shuts Down Pipelines after Texas Fire


Kinder Morgan reported on Tuesday that it shut down several natural gas pipeline segments after a fire occurred near the King Ranch gas processing plant in Kleberg, Texas on Monday morning.

According to Kinder Morgan spokesman Richard Wheatley, the incident occurred in an area of a supply header where several pipeslines are connected.

There were no injuries as a result of the incident, and an investigation is said to begin once the site is judged safe to do so.

The energy company reported it is unable to locate the start of the fire but has a team onsite to attempt to gain full access to the location.

The incident affected service through Kinder Morgan’s Texas pipeline, Tejas pipeline, and Mexico-Monterrey pipeline, along with others.

Energy Transfer owns the processing plant and was not immediately available for comment. A spokesman from Williams Companies stated that its Transco line connected to the King Ranch plant was not affected by the incident.

“We are in touch with our customers and determining impacts to them,” Wheatley said.


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

Enbridge Invests in Clean-up Equipment in Case of Oil Spill

Straits of Mackinac By Louie Wannahocka - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,


Canadian energy company Enbridge announced Monday that it will spend $7 million over the next two years on additional safety equipment to expedite the clean-up process in the event of a spill, despite the company’s insistence that the likelihood of there being a spill is incredibly unlikely.

The purchase includes equipment that would help quickly recover oil in open water and in icy conditions in the Straits of Mackinac. The company is also taking extra precaution with the purchase of floating barriers that can contain and absorb oil in the event of a spill.

Enbridge announced their safety equipment buys when it launched a relations tour in Michigan, a public relations event designed to convince surrounding communities that their Line 5 pipeline has never leaked and poses no risk to the scenic area.

Enbridge’s Line 5 is a 645-mile, 30-inch-diameter pipeline that runs through Michican’s peninsulas, starting in Superior, Wisconsin, and ending in Sarnia, Ontario. Built in 1953, the pipeline travels under the Straits of Mackinac and carries 23 million gallons of light crude oil and liquefied natural gas daily.

Although the pipeline is inspected regularly and monitored continuously by its operations center, environmental groups and communities are concerned about its high-risk placement in the straits area and want the line shut down or rerouted.

A senior manager of emergency response with Enbridge stated that despite the very unlikely chance of there being a spill, the company is ready to respond.


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.


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

Railroad Commission of Texas to Host 2016 Pipeline Safety Conference in San Antonio, Texas

The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) is hosting its 2016 Pipeline Safety Conference on August 24-26 in San Antonio, Texas.

The purpose of this conference is to educate the pipeline industry on both federal and state regulations. During the conference, attendees will have the opportunity to meet with RRC Pipeline Safety staff and inspectors, learn about safety changes at the RRC and how they will affect the industry, hear the new regulations that are coming from the federal and state levels, learn about services and products that will contribute to more efficient systems, and exchange ideas and best practices with peers in the industry.

Accommodations have been reserved at the Embassy Suites River Walk. For more information on rates and reservations, visit the Texas Gas Association website. The registration form and information on fees will also be available on their website.

For more information about the conference, visit Railroad Commission of Texas.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company Tests Drones as Potential Safety Inspectors of Gas and Electric Infrastructure

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is testing the utility of drones to increase safety of its electric and gas infrastructures after receiving authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use the unmanned aircraft systems to help with the infrastructure inspections.

The drones, which are controlled by operators using remote commands, will be tested at the hydroelectric facility Balch Powerhouse, located outside of Fresno, California. Tests at the Balch Powerhouse will include using the drones to assess equipment that is located in steep terrain and other areas whose geological environments pose danger to inspectors and require an extensive amount of training and safety equipment.

Vice President of Electric Transmission and Distribution at PG&E reported that the drone tests are proving to be successful as the drones are able to fly over hard-to-reach and inaccessible terrain and bring back images of the conditions of electric and gas infrastructure located in the terrain. The benefits of using drones for inspection include the enhancement of safety and reliability and accurate detection of leaks and structural issues in remote areas and over long distances.

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