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Interpretation Response #PI-09-0021 ([New Mexico Public Regulation Commission] [Mr. Joe M. Johnson])

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

Interpretation Response Details

Response Publish Date:

Company Name: New Mexico Public Regulation Commission

Individual Name: Mr. Joe M. Johnson

Country: US

View the Interpretation Document

Response text:

August 11, 2010

Mr. Joe M. Johnson

Acting Bureau Chief

New Mexico Public Regulation Commission

Pipeline Safety Bureau

1120 Paseo de Peralta

Santa Fe, New Mexico 87504

Dear Mr. Johnson:

In a letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) dated October 19,2009, you requested an opinion/interpretation on the requirements of § 192.619 and asked whether the current policy of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission's Pipeline Safety Bureau (PSB) on determining maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) for intrastate gas pipelines regulated by the PSB is acceptable.

You stated that the PSB had recently performed compliance reviews involving older (pre-1970) gas pipelines for which the operators were unable to provide operating pressure records for the five year period preceding July 1, 1970. These operators are suggesting that they do not believe that they have to comply with the MAOP requirements of § 192.619(a)(3) on the grounds that the lines are pre-code. You stated that in some cases, this had resulted in those operators attempting to establish MAOPs of their pre-code pipelines at a pressure higher than the pipeline had ever been known to operate at without pressure testing or uprating the pipeline.

You correctly stated that under Part 192, gas distribution and transmission pipelines operated prior to July 1, 1970, that were not pressure tested after July 1, 1965, and for which the operating pressure for the five years preceding July 1, 1970, cannot be documented, the pipeline would need to be pressure tested or uprated in order to establish a MAOP for the pipeline. However, you also stated that for a number of years it has been PSB's alternative practice to:

a) Accept an affidavit from a person responsible for pipeline operations during that time period, attesting to the operating pressure during that period; or

b) Require the operator to consult with PSB and select a substitute five year period, acceptable to the PSB in lieu of testing or uprating pre-1970 pipelines in § 192.619( a)(3). You stated that your internal policy in this regard is as follows:

1) PSB would review available operating records. PSB would choose operating records dating back as close to the five years preceding July 1, 1970, and would use operating records for the 1970' s whenever possible;

2) PSB would not accept operating records after the date an operator was inspected or cited for an MAOP violation as a substitute for the period specified in § 192.619(a)(3); and

3) If the pipeline operator and PSB cannot agree on a substitute pressure, the operator is given a reasonable amount oftime to pressure test, uprate, or otherwise provide adequate documentation to support the intended MAOP.

We agree with PSB that gas distribution and transmission pipelines operated prior to July 1, 1970, that were not pressure tested after July 1, 1965, and for which operating pressure for the five years preceding July 1, 1970, cannot be documented, the pipeline would need to be pressure tested or uprated in order to establish a MAOP for the pipeline in accordance with Part 192.

Regarding PSB's alternative practice ofaccepting affidavits or other operating records in lieu of pressure testing or uprating of pipelines in the absence of pre-July 1, 1970 pipeline operating pressure data, we would note that Part 192 has no regulatory language to support the allowance ofthe PBS alternative practice. In order to establish a MAOP in a manner other than pressure testing or uprating in accordance with Subpart K of Part 192, an operator would have to seek a waiver and provide justification for its proposed alternative approach.

I hope that this information is helpful to you. If I can be of further assistance, please contact me at (202) 366-4046.

Sincerely,

John A. Gale

Director, Office of Regulations

Regulation Sections

Section Subject
192.619 Maximum allowable operating pressure: Steel or plastic pipelines