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Interpretation Response #PI-19-0016


Below is the interpretation response detail and a list of regulations sections applicable to this response.

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date: 01-27-2020
Company Name: Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission    Individual Name: Ms. Stephanie M. Wimer
Location state: PA    Country: US

View the Interpretation Document


Response text:

Ms. Stephanie M. Wimer
Senior Prosecutor
Pennsylvania PUC
P.O. Box 3265
Harrisburg, PA 17105-3265

Dear Ms. Wimer:

In a letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) dated October 17, 2019, you requested an interpretation of the pipeline safety regulations in 49 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Parts 191 and 192. Specifically, you requested clarification on the definition of "transportation of gas" under § 191.3.

You stated the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission's (Commission) Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement (I&E) Safety Division is currently investigating a natural gas pipeline incident that happened on September 10, 2018, in Center Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania. The incident occurred on the Revolution Pipeline, which is made of carbon steel and is 24 inches in diameter. The pipeline runs approximately 42 miles from a compressor station in Butler County, Pennsylvania to a cryogenic processing plant in Washington County, Pennsylvania.

You stated the Revolution Pipeline is owned and operated by Energy Transfer Company (ETC), OPID 32099, and construction of the pipeline was completed in or about March 2018. When the incident occurred on September 10, 2018, the line was being brought up to optimal operating pressure and the valve serving the cryogenic processing plant was closed. With that valve closed, the cryogenic processing plant was unable to receive natural gas. You stated that on the date of the incident, ETC had not reached the deadline to register the Revolution Pipeline with the Commission, because registration of pipeline miles for the 2018 calendar year was due on March 31, 2019.

You stated that on the date of the incident, the Revolution Pipeline was in the commissioning phase and, therefore, not all valves along the pipeline were open for packing the line and, as noted above, the valve at the cryogenic processing plant was shut such that the plant could not receive gas.

You ask PHMSA's responses for the following questions:

Question 1: Is packing the pipeline with product during the commissioning phase, where the line is in the process of being brought up to optimal operating pressure, remote valves are disengaged and the downstream valve to the cryogenic processing plant is closed, still deemed the "transportation of gas?"

Response to Question 1:

Yes, once a pipeline has gas to flow into it, regardless of flow conditions and pressurization, the line is in-service and deemed to be transporting gas.

Section 191.3 defines transportation of gas as:

Transportation of gas means the gathering, transmission, or distribution of gas by pipeline, or the storage of gas in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce.

Placing gas into an empty pipeline during the commissioning phase, and adding pressure into it is "transportation of gas."

Question 2: If Question 1 is answered in the negative, does PHMSA agree that the Revolution Pipeline was not jurisdictional to the Commission at the time of the September 10, 2018 incident?

Response to question 2:

The answer to Question 1 is in the affirmative. Therefore, the Revolution Pipeline was a regulated pipeline at the time of the incident. It is important to note that the Revolution Pipeline was also subject to the pipeline safety regulations before the line began transporting gas. Part 192 of the pipeline safety regulations prescribes the minimum safety requirements for pipeline facilities and the transportation of gas. See, 49 C.F.R. § 192.1. The pipeline safety regulations apply to the materials, design, construction and testing of the Revolution Pipeline before the facility transported gas.

If we can be of further assistance, please contact Tewabe Asebe at 202-366-5523.

Sincerely,

John A. Gale
Director, Office of Standards
and Rulemaking


Regulation Sections

Section Subject
§ 191.3 Definitions