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FERC Seeks to Broaden Reporting of Pipe Damages

June 19, 2006
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With the advent of the hurricane season, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is seeking to beef up its regulations governing the reporting of damages to interstate natural gas pipelines.

Current FERC regulations require a natural gas company to submit a report only when it experiences a "serious service interruption" on a jurisdictional gas pipeline facility. However, reporting is not required when a damaged pipeline manages to avoid service interruptions by rerouting gas supplies through other facilities or by means of other delivery arrangements.

The Commission issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) Friday that would change this. It would require all jurisdictional gas lines to report by e-mail or by fax damage that results in a "loss or reduction in service" to their facilities, as well as the date when the facilities will be restored. FERC would give pipelines 30 days to file with the agency a copy of any incident report required by the Department of Transportation (DOT). The proposal also would require interstate pipelines to send copies of required damage reports to state commissions.

In proposing the revisions, FERC said it "became aware that, while jurisdictional companies had kept the Commission informed of service interruptions as required by [current regulations during last hurricane season], vital information regarding the physical condition of facilities affecting operation of the pipeline grid remained unknown to the Commission."

FERC's existing "reporting requirements are not adequate to permit a reliable 'snapshot' of the natural gas infrastructure at any given time," the NOPR said [RM06-18].

In reporting damage, the agency proposes that pipelines cite:

FERC said comments on the NOPR are due 30 days after publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register.

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