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Rulemaking on safety of gas transmission and gathering pipelines

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Oilfield Technology,

On 10 July, the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and 11 oil and natural gas producer associations submitted comments to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) on its notice of proposed rulemaking on safety of gas transmission and gathering pipelines. The Independent Producers argue that PHMSA has not supported the proposal to upend the existing framework for regulating natural gas production and gathering lines. The comments point to PHMSA’s failure to comply with a congressional mandate prior to proposing new regulations for gathering lines.

In particular, the Independent Producers protest the proposed definition of gathering and production lines, with PHMSA defining “onshore production facilities” as “terminat[ing] at the furthermost downstream point where: Measurement for the purpose of calculating minerals severance occurs; or there is commingling of the flow stream of two or more wells.”

IPAA’s legal counsel, Greg Russell of Vorys, stated: “Not only does that definition ignore PHMSA’s jurisdictional constraints by ignoring the actual function of the line… but it is a complete dismissal of the traditional understanding of production operations rightly reflected in RP-80 and the reality of multi-well horizontal development from a single well pad – where under the proposed definition, regulated gathering could begin on the well pad, at or near the wellhead.”

Tom Stewart of Oilfield Policy Advisors LLC and Co-Chair of IPAA’s Pipeline Safety Task Force stated: “We are independent producers of America’s reliable energy resources, a high responsibility. In our comments we ask only that the agencies obey the law, regulate as necessary, yet respect the authorisation provided them by Congress. We all have mutual goals of protecting the public interest. But, we will fight unwarranted and intrusive regulators who think they have the right to rise above the rule of law; even as we will operate our investments in America’s energy infrastructure to the highest standards possible.”

Susan Ginsberg, IPAA’s Vice President of Crude Oil & Natural Gas Regulatory Affairs, echoed the various producer associations’ concerns with the proposed rule. “Energy producers want to do their job in a safe and responsible manner. What PHMSA has proposed would not further that goal and would likely result in smaller producers having to shut in production, particularly from marginal wells.”

Working with IPAA were the American Exploration & Production Council, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, the Independent Oil & Gas Association of West Virginia, the Kansas Independent Oil & Gas Association, the Kentucky Oil & Gas Association, the Michigan Oil and Gas Association, the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association, the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, the Virginia Oil and Gas Association, and the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association.

Edited from source by Stephanie Roker

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