On June 20, 2017, a notice document issued by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) was published in the Federal Register in response to a petition for reconsideration of its interim final rule (IFR), entitled “Safety of Underground Natural Gas Storage Facilities,” that was issued on December 19, 2016.
The petition for reconsideration, which was submitted on January 18, 2017, addressed the portions of the IFR that requires operators of underground natural gas storage facilities (UGS) to comply with the provisions of two Recommended Practices (RPs) issued by the American Petroleum Institute (API), RP 1170 and RP 1171, both of which the IFR incorporated by reference. In the June 20 notice, the PHMSA states that it will formally respond to the petition in a final rule that it expects to publish in January of 2018 and, until one year has passed since the issuance of that final rule, it will not issue enforcement citations for non-compliance with the non-mandatory provisions of the RPs or for failure to justify and document non-compliance with those provisions.
The PHMSA intends to retain and enforce the remainder of the IFR, which became effective on January 18, 2017, while it evaluates the portions converting the non-mandatory provisions of the RPs into mandatory requirements. This includes the requirement that operators of existing UGS develop policies and procedure before January 18, 2018 to implement the sections of RP 1170 and RP 1171 that are identified as mandatory in the actual RPs.