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Regulatory Process Changes at the Office of Pipeline Safety

[+] Author Affiliations
Jeff Wiese

U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Pipeline Safety, Washington, D.C.

James von Herrmann, Paul Wood

Cycla Corporation, Alexandria, VA

Paper No. IPC2004-0539, pp. 2707-2711; 5 pages
  • 2004 International Pipeline Conference
  • 2004 International Pipeline Conference, Volumes 1, 2, and 3
  • Calgary, Alberta, Canada, October 4–8, 2004
  • Conference Sponsors: International Petroleum Technology Institute
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4176-6 | eISBN: 0-7918-3737-8
  • Copyright © 2004 by ASME


Over the past several years the Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) in the Research and Special Programs Administration of the US Department of Transportation has begun to develop and implement a different approach to structuring its regulations and to carrying out the inspections it uses to evaluate operator conformance with the provisions of these regulations. Several new Rules have been promulgated incorporating provisions that are a combination of prescriptive, performance-based, and management-based. These rules include the hazardous liquid integrity management rules for large and small operators, the operator qualification rule, and the gas integrity management rule. The new rules have been designed to allow operators flexibility in their approach to addressing the objectives of the regulations. Such flexibility is needed because of the significant differences in the pipeline infrastructure operated by each company, and the corresponding need to acknowledge these differences to assure the objectives of regulation are achieved without imposing a needless and costly burden on the operators. Promulgation of highly prescriptive “one-size-fits-all” regulations is inconsistent with the variations present in the infrastructure operated by the US pipeline industry. One ingredient in the approach OPS has chosen is the imposition of “management-based” requirements. These requirements are so-called because they prescribe implementation of a program that includes the need for several management practices. The new rules allow some flexibility in which management practices are selected and exactly how they are implemented. Inspection against management-based provisions is different from inspection of purely prescriptive requirements. Management-based requirements provide flexibility in how operators evaluate, justify and change their practices to satisfy the intent of the rule within their unique operating environment. While such changes are designed to lead to improved performance, they will not immediately manifest themselves in recognizable changes in performance, so finely tuned measures of performance are needed to help evaluate the effectiveness of the new requirements. OPS has adopted several mechanisms to aid in the consistent inspection of the management-based provisions of the new rules. These mechanisms are discussed in the paper, as is the OPS approach to answering the question of how it will know if the new approach is working.

Copyright © 2004 by ASME
Topics: Safety , Pipelines



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