New Regulations for Gas Distribution Companies
If your city or community is responsible for supplying natural gas to your area residents, this local distribution system is now subject to new regulations. As of February 12, 2010, local distribution operators are required to establish a Distribution Integrity Management Program (DIMP). Local distribution companies have until August 2, 2011 to write and implement their program.
Under the new regulations, local distribution companies will be required to develop an integrity program that is tailored to its specific operations rather than imposing the same prescriptive requirements for everyone. DIMP requirements are different from the integrity management requirements for transmission pipeline because of the substantial differences between the two types of pipelines.
Distribution pipelines are found in largely urban centers, while transmission pipelines are usually in rural areas and traditional methods of confirming the integrity of the line, for example in-line inspection, is not feasible for the smaller-diameter, lower-pressure distribution systems.
The new regulations will require operators to identify those conditions, characteristics or threats that cause leaks in order to make their systems even more reliable and safe. The operator will then be required to take steps to mitigate the particular risk before a release occurs, while also taking the appropriate steps when a leak does occur. Operators will also have to demonstrate their program has been implemented as outlined and that the plan is effective over time.
By thoroughly accounting for these concerns, operators will gain additional working knowledge of their particular system that will increase their ability to identify and assess the potential for threats to the facility and enable them to implement measures to correct such threats. In short, distribution operators are required to measure their performance, monitor their results and evaluate their overall effectiveness and reliability via industry mandates.
PHMSA is in the process of developing frequently asked questions relating to the new DIMP regulations. View the FAQ or learn more about the integrity management requirement for transmission operators by contacting your local transmission operator.