INGAA Locks Horns with PHMSA

March 2011, Vol. 66 No. 3

Groups such as the American Petroleum Institute and Association of Oil Pipelines had asked for the 60-day comment period extension, citing the complexity and impact of the potential changes on their companies. Peter T. Lidiak, director, pipeline, API, says, "We are looking at all the questions posed by PHMSA and planning to respond to each one in some detail. We will urge PHMSA to continue to allow risk ranking of what is regulated so that resources can be appropriately prioritized for and focused on where the greatest risks are. Also, there is potential for regulatory duplication and overlap and PHMSA should be careful to consider oversight of pipelines by state and other federal agencies before they extend their own regulations to additional classes of pipelines. Potentially duplicative or conflicting requirements would not serve greater pipeline safety."

INGAA wants flexibility on greenhouse gas monitoring
INGAA is pressing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to clarify greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting rules for 2011. Companies had to monitor greenhouse gas emissions from compressor combustion in 2010, and report emissions over 25,000 tons as of March 31, 2011. For year 2011, pipelines will have to monitor fugitive and vented emissions as well from centrifugal compressor venting, reciprocating compressor rod packing venting and a few other less significant sources. Combustion measurements were fairly easy; monitoring fugitive and vented emissions, mostly of methane, will be much more difficult because measurement has to be done directly, by a worker, which in many cases, particularly with regard to blow down vents, can pose serious safety threats because of the difficulty of getting to those vents.

That explains the petitions the INGAA filed in late January, one to the EPA and the other to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, DC. The very similar petitions request that the EPA allow transmission pipelines to use best alternative monitoring methods (BAMM) to compute GHG emissions. BAMM allows pipelines to measure fugitive and vented emissions without a company having to re-engineer a compressor station to make access to a blow down vent, for example, safe for a worker. BAMM are based on supplier data, engineering calculations or other owner or operator records.