FERC Thursday rejected as "premature" a request to revise a final rule requiring regulated companies to quickly report damage caused by a "natural disaster or terrorist activity" that curtails natural gas pipeline throughput or storage deliverability.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued the final rule (Order 682) last August largely in response to the infrastructure devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico in the late summer of 2005. The rule gives companies 20 days to furnish the Commission with a copy of any damage incident report that is required to be filed with the Department of Transportation (DOT).

On rehearing, the American Gas Association (AGA) asked FERC to revise the rule to require pipelines and storage companies to post their damage reports on their Internet websites as well. But the Commission said it was "premature" to implement the gas distribution group's request at this time, noting that it might result in an "unnecessary burden" on jurisdictional pipelines and storage firms.

While the "Commission acknowledges AGA's assertion that the information in the companies' reports could be useful to market participants because damage to facilities and/or service interruptions can influence prices," it "must also weigh the additional burden on natural gas companies against the benefit to their customers," the order said [RM06-18].

FERC will give "further consideration" to this matter as it consults with the DOT/Office of Pipeline Safety to minimize duplicative reporting requirements for pipelines and storage companies, the order said [RM06-18]. At the end of the collaborative process, the agency anticipates there will be further rulemaking proceedings to again revise the requirements for reporting damage to facilities, it noted. The Commission said it believes AGA's request may be ripe for Commission action then.

"In the interim, the Commission encourages companies to electronically post information [on damages] to the extent they believe appropriate and useful to their shippers," the FERC order said.

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