FERC Approves Second of Three Oregon LNG/Pipeline Projects

PHMSA Announces Final Control Room Management Rule, Controversial Elements Dumped From DIMP
February 2010 Vol. 65 No. 2

PHMSA Announces Final Control Room Management Rule
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a final rule dictating the shape and content of new control room management programs for hazardous liquid, gas transmission and distribution pipelines. The rules come into play where controllers use supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. This is a final rule which the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America and the American Gas Association initially opposed, then suggested alternative language. In the final rule, PHMSA does step away from some of the more objectionable language in the proposed rule it issued in September 2008.

Terry Boss, a senior vice president at INGAA, admits the rulemaking process was "contentious" but lauds PHMSA's ultimate publication of a "good, consensus final rule." INGAA has been participating in development of a "Common Gas Control Manual" under the auspices of the Southern Gas Association. That document is almost complete. It is expected to provide additional specificity beyond some of the general requirements in the PHMSA final rule.

One of the changes companies will have to implement to be in compliance with the rule, for example, is revisions in the hours of service SCADA employees work. The PMHSA final rule provides some flexibility, Boss explains. The SGA manual will provide specifics which, if companies adhere to them, will essentially put them in good shape with regard to PHMSA's expectations.

The new rule becomes effective on Feb. 1, 2010. Control room management programs must be written by Aug. 1, 2011, and implemented by Feb. 1, 2012.

Small pipelines with fewer than 250,000 customers and transmission companies without compressor stations have a scaled down set of requirements.