The American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Association of Oil Pipe Lines (AOPL) have expressed reservations about findings in recent third-party studies that the federal government will consider in potential new mandates for leak detection systems and shutoff valves for pipelines.
The Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 required PHMSA to provide Congress with reports on pipeline leak detection systems and automatic and remotely controlled valves. Studies conducted by PHMSA contractors examined the technical, operational and economic feasibility and potential cost benefits of installing additional leak detection systems and shutoff valves.
API and AOPL are concerned that two of the studies, completed by contractors and passed on to Congress by PHMSA, are deeply flawed and if used to support regulations in this area would divert limited safety funds away from efforts to address greater risks to public safety and the environment.
AOPL and API note the leak detection study “presented only academic discussions and technology vendor assertions without collecting data on actual field experiences on reliability, availability, maintainability or costs.” Also, they advised that the valve study provides a “gross overestimation” of the potential benefits of additional shutoff valves.
AOPL and API further state that regrettably, the final leak detection and valve reports make no substantial improvements to the fundamental flaws in the drafts.