Gas Mega Rule to take effect in 2020

Jill Watson, Senior PRA Engineer

In October of last year, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) amended the existing federal Pipeline Safety Standard (49 CFR Parts 192) for gas transmission and gathering pipelines. This new set of regulations is referred to as the “Gas Mega Rule”.

Effective July 1, 2020, part 1 of the new “Gas Mega Rule,” aims to increase the level of safety associated with the transportation and operation of onshore gas transmission pipelines.

The Gas Mega Rule provides an expansion of the integrity management requirements for gas transmission pipelines with a greater reliance on risk modeling and the assessment of pipeline risk to prioritize and inform the pipeline operator. Based on lessons learned from the San Bruno incident in 2010, faulty risk assessments and incomplete/inaccurate pipe data important to the safe operation of these lines were identified as contributing factors to the failure of the pipe segment. As a result, the changes provided in the Gas Mega Rule address these shortcomings in the data analyses, and integrity management and risk assessment processes.

Key Changes adopted in the new Gas Mega Rule include the following:

Non-HCA: A classification for piping segments identified as non-High Consequence Area (non-HCA) are defined as a subset of MCAs. Due to the identification of recent incidents occurring in these non-HCA areas, PHSMA has extended integrity management requirements for some of the non-HCA pipe segments.

MAOP Reconfirmation: In response to the San Bruno incident where correction pipe data was found to be either missing or incorrect, the PHMSA guidance contains a new provision focused on reconfirming the pressure capacity of HCA transmission piping. Operators have 15 years to audit and confirm, as necessary the maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) of the subject pipe.

Materials Verification: Due to the transfer of pipeline assets between operators during acquisitions and divestures, pipelines associated with the San Bruno event were operated despite having incomplete and unknown data. PHMSA found this lack of pipe data to be was prevalent within the industry. To remedy this issue, PHMSA includes a requirement to verify the pipeline material properties and attributes for pipelines located in some HCA locations.

As we expect to see more pipeline regulations issued in the upcoming year, ENERCON has mobilized our integrated team of experts in pipeline engineering, integrity assessment, safety management, risk analyses, GIS, and integrity field consulting to focus on the emerging needs of our pipeline partners. ENERCON has specialized experience in risk assessment and analyses with special expertise in the application of quantitative analysis and probabilistic risk modeling methods to pipeline systems. As a result, ENERCON’s integrated team houses a comprehensive and expansive set of pipeline services focused on providing a tailored solution to serve our clients, both large and small.

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