Gathering pipes now regulated in Pa.

By James Willis31 January 2023

(Photo: Adobe.)

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) held a hearing in December to explain new regulations based on directives from the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to begin regulating previously unregulated natural gas gathering pipelines in the Keystone State.

Pennsylvania is a “certified state” in the federal PHMSA pipeline safety program. In essence, PHMSA delegates its authority to the PA PUC, to act on its behalf, with respect to pipeline safety. The PHMSA recently changed federal regulations that empower the agency to regulate gathering pipelines. In the updated federal regulations, PHMSA defines two new categories of pipelines: Type C and Type R. It is Type R, which are pipelines with a diameter of less than 8.625 inches and with very low pressure, that has become a bone of contention with PA producers.

The Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association (PIOGA) filed a petition with the PUC asking the commission to reconsider its claim that it has the right to regulate Type R gathering pipes. Such pipelines are not dangerous in the least. They don’t explode. Yet the PUC says such pipelines must now be regulated under PHMSA regulations. PIOGA has said if the PUC does not relent on regulating Type R pipelines, the group will “consider other options” to resolve the dispute.

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