Oil and gas companies operating in North Dakota could soon be required to report the location of thousands of miles of underground gathering lines to state regulators.
Under the new rule -- officially, Chapter 38-08-26 of the North Dakota Century Code -- an owner or operator of an underground gathering line after Aug. 1, 2013, would be required to submit, at least 180 days prior to service, a shape file showing the centerline of the pipeline to the state Public Service Commission (PSC). They would also have 180 days to report the abandonment of any gathering line to the PSC, as well as provide an updated shape file.
The rule also stipulates that for gathering lines that entered service after Aug. 1, 2011, pipeline owners and operators would be required to submit shape files for all existing underground gathering pipelines, including any known abandoned pipeline. Gathering lines that entered service before Aug. 1, 2011 are exempt.
The PSC would be authorized to create a geographic information system database for collecting pipeline shape files, but the database is not open to the public; the bill authorizes access only to the PSC, property owners affected by the gathering lines and any applicable tax commissioners.
The new rule was contained in HB 1333, which passed both chambers of the North Dakota Legislative Assembly and was signed by Gov. Jack Dalrymple in April.
Alison Ritter, spokeswoman for the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), told NGI’s Shale Daily that the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC) approved the new rules last week.
"Now they go to the attorney general for opinion and then to the administrative rules committee," Ritter said Thursday. "They will not be final until April 1, 2014. It's a very long process."
Ritter said there are more than 18,000 miles of gathering lines in North Dakota. Despite the exemption for gathering lines that entered service before Aug. 1, 2011, she said most of the state's gathering lines would still be subject to the new rules.
The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation, regulates the nation's 2.6-million mile network of oil, gas and hazardous waste pipelines. Meanwhile, the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, an office of the NDIC, maps oil and gas pipelines in the state but their regulation is the dominion of the PSC.