Approvals For TransCanada Tar Sand Pipeline Gets Sticky; Plus PMHSA Low-Stress Tug-Of-War And FERC Posting Edict

October 2010 Vol. 65 No. 10

The remaining low-stress liquid lines would be covered by the proposed rule issued on June 22, 2010. It would extend pipeline safety rules to smaller-diameter rural low-stress pipelines located in or within one-half mile of a USA and all rural low-stress pipelines of any diameter located outside the one-half mile USA buffer except for those that cross navigable waterways (which are already regulated). PHMSA estimates that 803 miles of rural low-stress pipelines were regulated by the 2008 final rule. This second phase rule would cover an addition 1,384 miles.

Peter T. Lidiak, director, pipeline, American Petroleum Institute, objects to PHMSA's intention to subject offshore pipelines currently regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard to PHMSA regulation. These are pipelines, for example, running from marine facilities such as a terminal at a refinery to bulk storage facilities. The issue here is not that there are a lot of miles at issue. Lidiak says instead the concern is that it makes no sense for two different agencies to oversee the same pipeline, especially here where the Coast Guard does a good job of oversight.

Deborah Hersman, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), says additional offshore lines besides those regulated by the Coast Guard should also be subject to PHMSA regulation. Those include offshore gathering lines currently regulated by the Minerals Management Service, an agency which has come under fire because of the BP disaster.

Final Edict On Interstate Posting
The FERC settled the last two remaining issues stemming from its gas posting policy established in Order 720 in 2008. Both interstates and intrastates had contested some elements of that policy, and its refinement, issued as Order 720A in January 2010. The intrastate issues were multiple and incredibly complex. They were contested by the American Gas Association and Atmos Energy Corporation, the country's largest natural gas-only distributor.