In Wake of San Bruno, PHMSA Calls Oversight of IM Programs "Lacking"

February 2011, Vol. 66 No. 2

Kuprewicz adds, "It is becoming very clear that a portion of gas transmission companies have not embraced the IM process defined in regulation and have twisted the intent. These companies clearly need to change their course. It is also becoming quite clear, given the lower number of miles inspected under IM, as well as the much lower number of repairs in HCAs, and the exclusion to avoid reporting repairs in non HCAs for gas transmission pipelines, that the IM regulatory process appears to have been subverted by some. For example, direct assessment (DA) was never intended to be the major inspection effort as the federal IM regulations are very clear on its limited technical applicability, and only a very few pipeline segments in HCAs have only the three risks that DA can reasonably address."

INGAA's Edwards responds that the 2002 congressional law which authorized the gas transmission IM program is very clear that companies can use any of three assessment tools: smart PIG, hydrostatic test and direct assessment. "The law doesn't distinguish between those three," he adds.