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    US reminds pipelines of methane leak obligations


Addressing leaks is an obligation for pipeline operators, the government said.

by: Daniel Graeber

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US reminds pipelines of methane leak obligations

The US federal government said June 7 that it issued an advisory on the requirements that pipeline operators must respect when considering their potential methane emissions.

Methane emissions from pipelines carrying petroleum products can occur during repairs, maintenance and other controlled activities. Damage from errant excavation and accidental leaks can lead to fugitive emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

“Minimising methane emissions from pipelines will help improve safety and combat climate change, while creating jobs for pipeline workers,” Tristan Brown, the acting administration of the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Safety Administration (PHMSA), said. “Pipeline operators have an obligation to protect the public and the environment by identifying and addressing methane leaks.”

A notice filed in the federal registry reminds operators of their obligations under the Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act from last year, which requires pipeline operators to update their maintenance and inspection plans to consider leaks. Replacement and remediation for networks that have a history of leaks must also be considered.

The advisory applies to the more than 2.8mn miles of pipelines, the estimated 17,000 natural gas wells and the 164 liquefied natural gas facilities in the country. All told, the PHMSA estimates that vast network accounts for about a third of the total methane emissions from the fossil fuels sector.

Methane emissions are the second-greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions after carbon dioxide. Methane, however, has a much more harmful short-term impact due to a greater warming effect