New Pipeline Safety Working Group to Meet on December 19

PHMSA Announces Upcoming Public Meeting with New Pipeline Safety Voluntary Information-Sharing System Working Group

PHMSA’s Voluntary Information-sharing System (VIS) Working Group meeting will be open to the public and held in the Washington, D.C. area on December 19, 2016. View the announcement here.

The VIS Working Group is mandated by law, section 10 of the (PIPES) Act of 2016. The Secretary of Transportation is required to assemble a working group by December 19, 2016 to consider the development of a voluntary information-sharing system to encourage collaborative efforts to improve inspection information feedback and information sharing with the purpose of improving gas transmission and hazardous liquid pipeline facility integrity risk analysis.

The Group will consist of no more than 30 members appointed by the secretary that includes representatives from PHMSA; Industry stakeholders, including: Operators of pipeline facilities; Inspection technology, coating, and cathodic protection vendors, and Pipeline inspection organizations; Safety advocacy groups;  Research institutions; State public utility commissions or State officials responsible for pipeline safety oversight; Labor representatives; and Other entities, as determined appropriate by the Secretary.

PHMSA is seeking recommendations on how to:

  1. Identity the need for a system to confidently share pipeline dig verification data with in-line inspection operators
  2. Encourage the sharing of pipeline inspection information and the development of advanced pipeline inspection technologies
  3. Share data to increase knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages of the varying types of in-line technologies
  4. Create a secure system that protects proprietary information while also encouraging information sharing and the development of advanced pipeline inspection technologies
  5. Protect safety- and security-sensitive information, as well as proprietary information; and
  6. Determine associated regulatory, funding, and legal issues

The location and any updates for the VIS working group will be posted here.  It will be their first meeting once the member appointment process is complete. PHMSA accepted member nominations until November 28, 2016 based on the nomination Federal Registrar notice. Final appointments will be made by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.



PHMSA to Issue New Regulations for Natural Gas Storage Facilities

USDOT Seeks Public Input on Proposed Fee Rate Structure for Underground Gas Storage Facilities

PHMSA published a notice to advise all underground natural gas storage facility operators of a proposed pipeline user fee assessment and rate structure. PHMSA is also seeking comments from the public on these proposed changes.

The Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016 (PIPES Act) requires PHMSA to issue new regulations for natural gas storage facilities. The PIPES Act also authorized PHMSA to impose user fees on operators of underground gas storage facilities to fund an $8 million Underground Natural Gas Storage Facility Account.

In the United States there are around 400 interstate and intrastate underground natural gas facilities with more than four trillion cubic feet of natural gas working capacity. Each operator would be assigned to a Tier from 1 to 10. Based on preliminary analysis of the EIA data, the tiers and assessment per tier to collect $8,000,000 would be:

Tier 1: $12,308 for Working capacity (Mcf) range of less than 1, 550,000 and up to Tier 10: $142,857 for more than 85,000,000 Working capacity (Mcf).

Once new regulations are in place, PHMSA will directly regulate interstate facilities and will provide grants to State agencies that are or become certified to regulate intrastate facilities. If no State agency is certified in a given state, PHMSA will also directly regulate any intrastate facilities.

“The safety of Underground Natural Gas Storage facilities is one of PHMSA’s top priorities, and this proposed fee structure- in conjunction with a forthcoming interim final rule for these facilities- will provide a consistent and sustainable safety framework for both interstate and intrastate facilities,” said PHMSA Administrator Marie Therese Dominguez.

PHMSA is designing a training program for both Federal and State inspectors to enable thorough and effective oversight of all underground storage facilities. Inspection protocols are being developed and will be made publicly available. The protocols will inform all stakeholders of PHMSA’s expectations for demonstrating compliance with the minimum safety regulations.

PHMSA invites those interested to comment on the underground natural gas storage facility user fee assessment procedures by January 6, 2017.

See the full document and submit a formal comment here.


You’re invited to PHMSA’s Pipeline Safety Research and Development Forum!

Office of Pipeline Safety to Host Research and Development Forum

From November 16, at 8:00 AM CDT to November 17, at 5:00 PM, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration will host a Pipeline Safety Research and Development Forum at Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

The public, government, and industry pipeline stakeholders are invited to participate and discuss pipeline safety, solutions, and research at the upcoming event. Find out all of the details here.


The forum focuses on 3 main points:

Identifying key pipeline technical challenges facing industry and government
Disseminating information on current efforts
Identifying new research that can help to meet known challenges


The Agenda includes-

Day 1, November 16, 2016

7:00 AM Registration (North Foyer)

8:00 AM Good Morning and Welcome
Event Moderator: Alan Mayberry, Acting Associate Administrator for Pipeline Safety, DOT/PHMSA

8:05 AM Opening Remarks by the PHMSA Administrator
Marie Therese Dominguez, Administrator

8:20 AM Panel 1: National Perspectives on Key Challenges
Moderator: Joshua Arnold, Engineering and Research, DOT/PHMSA
U.S. Fed Reg.: : Kenneth Lee, Director, Engineering and Research Division, DOT/PHMSA
U.S. State Reg.: Peter Chace, National Chairman, National Association of Pipeline Safety Representatives
Haz. Liq.: Trevor Grams, Director for Research, Development, and Innovation, Enbridge Pipelines Inc.
Gas Trans: Chad Zamarin, President, Cheniere Pipeline Company
Gas Dist.: Vaughn W. Shosted, Vice President, Operations, Questar Gas Company

10:00 AM BREAK

10:15 AM Working Group & CAAP-Poster Paper Overview
Event Moderator: Christie Murray, Acting Deputy Associate Administrator for Policy and Programs, DOT/PHMSA
CAAP Moderator: James Merritt, Program Manager, Pipeline Safety Research & Development Program

11:45 PM Competitive Academic Agreement Program Student Poster Paper Session (East Foyer)

12:30 PM LUNCH (On your own)

2:00 PM Concurrent Working Groups Phase 1

#1 Threat / Damage Prevention (Salon B)
Leader: Francois Rongere, R&D and Innovation Manager – Gas Operations, PG&E
Leader: Jemmie Wang, Partner, BizMetrix

#2 Leak Detection/Mitigation (Salon C)
Leader: Ray Philipenko, Sr. Manager, Leak Detection, Enbridge Pipelines Inc.
Leader: Douglas Robertson, Leak Detection Technology Initiatives & BD Support Team Lead, TransCanada Pipelines

#3 Anomaly Detection/Characterization (Salon D&E)
Leader: Mark Piazza, Director of Asset Integrity, Colonial Pipeline
Leader: David Chittick, Director of Pipeline Integrity, TransCanada Pipelines

#4 Natural Gas Underground Storage (Salon F)
Leader: Ray Harris, Assistant Vice President, National Fuel Gas Supply Corporation
Leader: C.J. Osman, Director of Operations, Safety and Integrity, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America

#5 Liquefied Natural Gas (Salon G)
Leader: Ted Williams, Director, Codes & Standards, American Gas Association
Leader: Walter Doucette, Director – LNG Operations Massachusetts North, National Grid

5:00 PM Day 1 Adjournment

5:30-6:30 PM Special Session: Comprehensive Study to Understand Longitudinal ERW Seam Failures (Salon D&E)
Day 2 – November 17, 2016
8:00 AM Concurrent Working Groups Phase II

#1 Threat / Damage Prevention (Salon B)
#2 Leak Detection / Mitigation (Salon C)
#3 Anomaly Detection / Characterization (Salon D&E)
#4 Natural Gas Underground Storage (Salon F)
#5 Liquefied Natural Gas (Salon G)

12:00 PM Lunch – On your own

1:00 PM Working Groups Phase III


3:15 PM Working Group 1-5 Report-Out Session (Grand Ballroom Salon D&E)

4:30 PM Summary / Next Steps / Adjournment
Event Moderator: Alan Mayberry, Acting Associate Administrator for Pipeline Safety, DOT/PHMSA