PHMSA’s Gas Regulatory Reform Rule Ready to Be Published and Available for Preview

By Erin Kurilla posted 10 days ago

  
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) Gas Regulatory Reform Final Rule has been approved by the Office of Management and Budget. It is now at the Federal Register preparing to be published. A preview version has been shared on PHMSA’s website here.

The proposed rule consists of 10 changes to gas regulatory requirements, including:

1. Flexibility in farm tap inspection requirements;
2. Repeal DIMP requirements for master meter operators;
3. Repeal submission requirements for the Mechanical Fitting Failure Reports (MFFR);
4. Adjust the monetary damage threshold for reporting incidents for inflation;
5. Allow remote monitoring of rectifier stations;
6. Revise the inspection interval for monitoring atmospheric corrosion (AC) on gas distribution service lines to five years;
7. Update the design standard for PE pipe and raise the maximum diameter limit;
8. Revise test requirements for pressure vessels consistent with ASME BPVC;
9. Revise welder requalification requirements to provide scheduling flexibility; and
10. Extend the allowance for pre-tested short segments of pipe and fabricated units to pipelines operating at a hoop stress less than 30 percent SMYS and above 100 psi.

The provision concerning the frequency of AC inspections is of highest interest to APGA members. The rule allows operators to inspect service lines on a five-year cycle, instead of the current three-year cycle. However, any service line found to have AC must be reinspected after three years regardless of remediation steps taken. APGA, jointly with the other industry trade associations, provided comments suggesting a service line that has been full remediated of should be allowed to continue on the five-year inspection cycle.

Unfortunately, PHMSA did not agree with these comments, nor the Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee’s 10-2 vote in favor of this solution. Here is an excerpt from PHMSA’s explanation in the final rule: “…finding atmospheric corrosion is an indication that a corrosive environment may exist. Inspection of such service lines within 3 years protects against this risk. Any remediation alternative requires careful consideration of what constitutes adequate remediation because corrosion has already been identified on the pipeline.” (Page 61-62)

It remains to be seen if this rule will be published in the Federal Register by January 20, 2021. If it is not, it most certainly will be sent back to PHMSA for the new administration to review. This process is standard and happens with every change of administration.

For questions on this article, please contact Erin Kurilla of APGA staff by phone at 202-464-2742 or by email at ekurilla@apga.org.
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