PHMSA seeks gas distributor, utility DIMP rule input

Nick Snow
Washington Editor
WASHINGTON, DC, June 26 -- The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has proposed a rule designed to implement distribution integrity management programs (DIMP) for natural gas utilities and other local distributors.

The proposed programs would be similar to those which the US Department of Transportation agency has proposed for interstate gas pipelines but would be tailored to reflect differences in and among distribution systems, PHMSA said in a June 25 Federal Register notice. Both programs are designed to make systems safer by identifying and reducing pipeline integrity risks, it indicated.

Under the proposed rule, operators would be required to install excess flow valves on certain new and replaced residential service lines, subject to outlined feasibility criteria. Based on required risk assessments and enhanced controls, it also would establish standards and procedures permitting risk-based adjustment of prescribed leak detection survey and other intervals for gas distribution pipelines, PHMSA said.

It added that to further minimize regulatory burdens, the proposed rule would establish simpler requirements for master meter and liquefied petroleum gas operators because their smaller pipeline systems pose fewer risks. PHMSA is accepting comments on its proposal through Sept. 23.

In an initial reaction, a spokesman for the American Gas Association, which represents 202 local gas distributors said that the overall approach and most of the proposed requirements are "very consistent" with the DIMP Phase 1 Report and a study by the American Gas Foundation. PHMSA plans to hold a series of informational webcasts, which can be reached through its website, in lieu of public meetings, he added.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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