Gathering Pipeline Operator, House Bill 2982 What’s It Looking Like?

House Bill 2982 – Gathering Pipelines

On July 23rd SunNet attended the Railroad Commission of Texas, Pipeline Safety Division’s Workshop concerning House Bill 2982 (HB 2982) held in Rockport, Texas. The Workshop consisted primarily of a presentation given by Polly McDaniel, Pipeline Safety Division’s Director with a follow-up of questions and answers. The following is our brief take-away from that session, and how we may be able to help those operators who will be involved by its implementation on September, 2015.

It Seems the People Have Spoken

The general public looks to the State and local governing bodies of elected officials for resolutions to many issues that require widespread and general considerations that can best be handled by a governing body. One of the things they expect to be taken care of by their governments is the safe operation and maintenance of pipelines that run through their properties, and their neighborhoods. Since it would be difficult for an individual and a pipeline operator to resolve all issues between them (there are sometimes quite a few individuals with issues), it is expected by the general public that the State officials should develop, pass laws and establish regulations to resolve or lessen any severity of these issues. When some of the general public realized that not all pipelines operating in the State of Texas were regulated, especially those operating in sensitive areas that would raise concern for public safety should a leak occur, they looked to their elected officials to address this issue and do something about it. Thus the development and passing of House Bill 2982 in 2013.

Pipelines

What Does HB 2982 Consist Of?

HB 2982 is basically an add-on of the Texas Natural Resources Code. It adds new language to Chapter 117, which pertains to hazardous liquids and carbon dioxide pipelines as follows:

117,012(a) – Rules adopted under this subsection that apply to the intrastate transportation of hazardous liquids and carbon dioxide by gathering pipelines in rural locations and intrastate hazardous liquid and carbon dioxide gathering pipeline facilities in rural locations must be based only on the risks the transportation and the facilities present to the public safety, except that the commission shall revise the rules as necessary to comply with Subsection (c) and to maintain the maximum degree of federal delegation permissible under 49 U.S.C. Section 6010, or a succeeding law if the federal government adopts rules that include safety standards applicable to the transportation and facilities.

For gas gathering pipelines, HB 2982 adds to the Texas Utilities Code, Chapter 121 a new paragraph (8) to Section 121.201(a) as follows:

… (8) by rule establish safety standards and practices for gathering facilities and transportation activities in Class 1 locations, as defined by 49 C.F.R. Section 192.5:

(A) Based only on the risks the facilities and activities present to the public safety, to the extent consistent with federal law; or

(B) As necessary to maintain the maximum degree of federal delegation permissible under 49 U.S.C. Section 60101, or a succeeding law, if the federal government adopts safety standards and practices for gathering facilities and transportation activities in Class 1 locations, as defined by 49 C.F.R. Section 192.5.

Simply put:this rule concerns only gathering pipelines and their associated facilities (meters, separators, glycol units, etc.) located in rural areas. The rule does not make any attempt to further define a gathering pipeline or imply any definitive point where a flow line ends and a gathering line begins. It does however, state that a gathering pipeline in a Class 1 location or a rural area will now be regulated on the basis of any risks posed to public safety.

Between now and September 2015 the Commission can, and most likely will require operators to provide information to the Commission that would be necessary in determining various levels of risks presented to the public safety by the transportation of gas, hazardous liquids and carbon dioxide by means of these gathering pipelines and their associated facilities in Class 1 locations and rural areas. At a minimum, the following data would be great importance:

  • Total miles of gathering pipelines (per system) consisting of carbon steel, plastic or other line pipe material – list the mileage of each.
  • Line pipe specifics (wall thickness, pipe stress yield, date of installation, etc.)
  • Maximum operating pressure (MOP, MAOP)
  • Current flow rate
  • Current operating pressure
  • Operating permit, or T-4 number
  • What determination is currently being used for regulatory status?
  • Are leak surveys of any kind conducted?
  • Is the system in question under cathodic protection?
  • Is the system in question have surveillance?
  • Is internal corrosion considered?
  • Is atmospheric corrosion monitored on a regular basis?
  • Has the structural integrity of the system been assessed, and what methodology was used?
  • Does the system in question have a valid pressure test record?
  • Does the system have an over pressure protection device in place?
  • Does the system have ample line markers?
  • Are the gas pipelines odorized?
  • Is the system under any damage prevention program?
  • Is the system currently under a written emergency plan?
  • Is the system part of a public awareness program?
  • Number of the following are within ½ mile of the pipeline system:

    • Dwellings
    • Public or private schools
    • Care facilities
    • Recreational areas
    • Retail or commercial areas
    • Religious gatherings
    • Airport
    • Agricultural related structures
    • Prison
  • For the gathering pipeline systems in question, how many of the following results per year have occurred in the past 5 years:

    • Incidents
    • Fatalities
    • Injuries
    • Estimated Costs
    • Number caused by excavation
Pipelines

Further Considerations Concerning HB 2982

Generally the operators of these pipelines to be covered by HB 2982 have not been expected to submit a plan to remediate an abnormal operation, incident, integrity threat or complaint, but may be asked to do so by the Commission under this ruling. Also as a result of this ruling the Commission could require the operators to provide information further to the bulleted items mentioned previously that may be necessary to determine the risks presented to the public safety by the transported gas, hazardous liquids and carbon dioxide through these pipelines in Class 1 locations and rural areas.

All and all, it looks like gas gathering pipelines in Class 1 locations and liquid gathering pipelines in rural areas are now going to be regulated to some extent, and this could be expense for some operators who have not maintained historical data for these pipelines very well for various reasons in the past. Another year remains before HB 2982 develops any muscle or specifics, so now would be a very good time to assist the Commission in further developing the rule and regulatory requirements. To her credit, Mrs. Polly McDonald’s discussion seemed to be centered on this theme of getting input from the very operators who will be affected by this House Bill. Not only is information needed to help the Commission establish a risk-ranking process to determine which segments will receive the most attention of the regulatory considerations this bill will have, but now may also be a good time for the operators to help develop a more conclusive definition of what a jurisdictional gathering pipeline actually is, and where that jurisdiction begins and ends.

The previously noted bulleted items represent an awful lot of data. If an operator had not already compiled at least this data mentioned, it would be a shame to collect it now for just this this one occasion. SunNet offers a solution that will not only help compile this data for you, but will store it in an informative and meaningful way for future use. Or maybe you already have this data, but in several formats (handwritten, photos, PDF, drawings, etc.) or different databases. SunNet could still be of great assistance in bringing it all together while providing a quick and simple means for managing it as well.

September 2015 is just around the corner. Contact SunNet today and speak to one of our Data Management and Pipeline Compliance experts.

Let’s get some feedback: Let us know if you find this helpful. Email us and feel free to tell us if we have a misconception, or maybe we have not spent enough time on a particular subject that you feel more needs to be said. We have thick skins, can’t hurt our feeling – it is more important to us that we have not mislead anyone. If you do wish to comment, let us know if you do not wish to have your emails or comments posted, and we’ll just keep it between us.

By Randy Vaughn, SunNet’s Pipeline Database Management Solutions Advisor