General Accountability Office Report on Gathering Lines
Under the pipeline safety regulations, operators of certain gathering lines are required to convey specific information to public officials. This information includes the purpose and general location of gathering lines. Gathering lines are pipelines that collect raw natural gas and crude oil from areas of production and transport them to processing facilities or other larger collection points. Gathering pipelines include a range of sizes depending on the quantity of the product being moved and the demand for capacity. Due to the recent development of these natural resources, many gathering systems are being built throughout the country to move these energy supplies. One of the issues arising from this activity involves the level and extent of regulations necessary to govern the construction and operation of gathering lines.
The GAO spent nearly 12 months looking into the matter during which time they consulted state and federal regulators, industry associations and other stakeholders. In early 2012, they released their findings to Congress. GAO did not make a determination as to whether additional regulation was needed. Instead, GAO recommended that PHMSA needed to collect more information to determine the level of risk posed by gathering lines. It was indicated that a deeper analysis would foster a better understanding of the level of regulation that should be applied going forward. PHMSA has acknowledged this issue and requested feedback from the industry regarding what level of risk gathering lines pose and how they should be regulated going forward.
For more information on GAO or to read the complete GAO report, visit www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-388.