Asset Reliability Defined

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has issued a final rule that addresses congressional mandates, Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommendations, and public input to increase safety of “gas gathering” pipelines. The original rule was issued over a decade ago and the final rule is intended to expand the definition of a “regulated” gas gathering pipeline that was more than 50 years old.

The PHMSA final rule states, “Increasingly, many of these gathering lines have design and operating parameters that are similar to natural gas transmission lines (“transmission lines”), which pose an increased risk to public safety and the environment.” The rule labels coastal regions and the Great Lakes as High Consequence Areas (HCAs) – which compels pipeline operators to update their Reliability and Mechanical Integrity (MI) programs to include any pipeline that may affect these delicate environments.

Purpose of the Final Rule

The PHMSA final rule, which goes into effect on May 16, 2022, covers more than 425,000 miles of pipelines. The purpose of this final rule is to improve pipeline safety by increasing pipeline integrity, lowering the probability of failure, and enhancing emergency response in the occurrence of an incident. In addition, the PHMSA instates this rule in hopes that is will increase public safety, reduce threats to the physical environment, and promote environmental justice for minority populations, low-income populations, and other underserved and disadvantaged communities. For the first time, pipeline operators are required to report safety information for all gas gathering lines including filing incident reports and a comprehensive annual report.

Until 2005, U.S. gas production demands virtually plateaued since the 1970s, but due to new drilling technologies and other factors, demand started to surge. This increase in the volume of gas that companies were now able to extract caused an increase in the need to be able to transport. As a result, lines are now constructed with a larger diameter and operate under higher pressure that is sometimes comparable to those of interstate gas transmission lines.

Over the last 15 years, an increasing number of incidents have occurred on these high pressure, unregulated lines causing injuries, fatalities, and substantial amounts of greenhouse gas (methane) emissions. On average, more than 1,000 metric tons of methane emissions are emitted with every rupture.

Reliability Solutions to Meet Compliance

The midstream industry has a significant impact on the global economy, and there are reliability solutions for every stage of construction and operations. Though only a few months away, facilities can start making small foundational changes that will help them meet compliance and set them up for a strong reliability program. For example, Pinnacle is working with an operator in the Permian Basin to establish a compliance plan by the May 2022 deadline. The operator currently has little regulation around this class of pipe, and to meet compliance and improve reliability, they plan to start with data collection and organization. This step will not only allow the operator to reduce the risk of its assets but will also help ensure its program complies with the new PHMSA requirement. See below for some of the reliability solutions that will help operators meet compliance:

Data Collection

Master Asset List

All in-scope asset, such as piping, and relevant information is extracted from a facility’s Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams (P&IDs), Process Flow Diagrams (PFDs), and Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) exports. This information is consolidated with personnel knowledge to ensure confidence in a single, comprehensive list of assets that meets regulatory compliance and defines a scope of work that will eliminate unnecessary costs.

Field Verifications

Facility personnel complete walkdowns to verify information in the field. This step helps facilities avoid unnecessary costs and validates the scope for compliance. Additionally, field verifications provide the correct MI data that is used for risk assessments, corrosion modeling, and minimum thickness analysis.

Data Organization

Digitizing Documents

All of a facility’s hard files are scanned, renamed, and organized into an electronic document library. An electronic library provides authorized personnel with a single, organized location to access all necessary documentation.

Pipe Datamining

Datamining is the extraction of pertinent MI data for each in-scope piping asset (including design, construction, operating, and inspection history data) from electronic documentation and existing data and maintenance management systems. Datamining is conducted to collect, organize, and verify relevant MI data used for corrosion modeling, risk assessments, and minimum thickness analysis so the facility can make informed decisions on accurate data.

Data collection and organization are just the beginning of a strong reliability program. Having the right data fuel intelligence solutions will help you make confident, strategic decisions and is crucial to the success of any program. Read more about Pinnacle’s Data-Driven Reliability solution here.

About PHMSA

As a part of the Department of Transportation, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration operates in a complex and ever-changing environment. Its mission is to protect people and the environment by advancing the safe transportation of energy and other hazardous materials that are essential to daily life. It is responsible for the safe operation of the U.S.’s 2.6-million-mile pipeline transportation system and the nearly 1 million daily shipments of hazardous materials by land, sea, and air.

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