U.S. Issues New Safety Rules for Underground Gas Storage Facilities

December 15, 2016

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued an interim final rule (IFR) revising pipeline safety regulations to address safety issues related to underground natural gas storage facilities.

The IFR followed recommendations by a U.S. interagency task force in October after a major leak from the Aliso Canyon storage facility in California last year.

It revises federal regulations governing safety issues related to downhole facilities, including well integrity, well bore tubing and casing.

The standards, effective 30 days after the date of publication in the federal register, directly apply to about 200 interstate facilities and serve as the minimum federal standard for about 200 intrastate facilities, the agency said in a statement on Wednesday.

“This IFR addresses aging infrastructure and is the first step in a multiphase process to enhance the safety of underground natural gas storage,” said PHMSA Administrator Marie Therese Dominguez in the statement, adding that the standard would help prevent incidents like the one at Aliso Canyon.

SoCalGas, owned by California energy company Sempra Energy, shut Aliso Canyon in October 2015 due to a massive methane leak that was not plugged until February.

Aliso Canyon is the biggest of the company’s four storage fields and supplies gas to homes and businesses in Southern California, including power plants and refineries.

(Reporting by Karen Rodrigues in Bengaluru; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

Topics USA California

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