The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is urging pipeline operators to take certain actions to insure integrity of gas and hazardous liquid pipelines in the Gulf Coast region damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
The agency received numerous reports of damage to pipeline facilities, particularly offshore Louisiana.
Several on shore pipeline companies have reported facilities (pumping stations, compression stations, and terminals) to be under water and leaking.
The first aerial inspections of crude oil and natural gas platforms have reported extensive damage and numerous oil and gas pipeline leaks. There is also a report of a production platform missing.
PHMSA published two advisory bulletins in the Federal Register September 7 after evaluating damage reports and issued the following recommendations to operators:
•Conduct additional leak surveys and inspection of above ground equipment as necessary to detect any damage which may have occurred.
•For distribution systems or portions of systems that have been shut down, check for damage to piping, valves, emergency shutdown systems, risers and meter sets prior to restoring system operation and relighting customers.
•Check for water that may have leaked into low pressure systems.
•Identify persons who normally engage in shallow water commercial fishing, shrimping, and other marine vessel operations and caution them that underwater offshore pipelines may have become unprotected on the sea floor. Marine vessels operating in water depths comparable to a vessel's draft or when operating bottom dragging equipment can be damaged and their crews endangered by an encounter with an underwater pipeline.
•Identify and caution marine vessel operators in offshore shipping lanes and other offshore areas where Hurricane Katrina may have affected a pipeline that deploying fishing nets or anchors, and dredging operations may damage the pipeline, and/or the marine vessels, and endanger their crews.
•Aerial inspections of pipeline routes should be conducted to check for leaks in transmission systems. In areas where floating and jack-up rigs have moved and their path could have been over pipelines, review possible routes and check for sub-sea pipeline damage where required.
•Identify and correct any conditions on the pipeline as required by federal pipeline safety regulations. (49 USC Chapter 601; 49 CFR 1.53).
Federal pipeline safety regulations require that operators report certain incidents and accidents to PHMSA by specific methods.
PHMSA would appreciate receiving information about all damage to pipeline facilities in the Gulf of Mexico and adjacent state waters caused by Hurricane Katrina.