Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Task force releases report of recommendations for storing underground natural gas

A federal task force has released a report of recommendations for the nation's more than 400 underground natural gas storage wells. The task force, co-chaired by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), was designed to help PHMSA develop minimum federal safety standards for underground gas storage that will be issued within two years.

Recommendations for well integrity include: new wells should be designed so that a single point of failure cannot lead to leakage and uncontrolled flow, and except under limited circumstances, natural gas storage operators should phase out single point-of-failure wells; operators should adopt risk management plans that include a rigorous monitoring program, well integrity evaluation, leakage surveys, mechanical integrity tests and conservative assessment intervals; and DOE and DOT should conduct a specific and thorough joint study of subsurface safety valves. (Gas storage facilities, U.S. Energy Information Administration map)
Recommendations for health and environment are: in the event of a natural gas leak large enough to require multiple jurisdictions in the response effort, a 'unified command' should be formed early so that leaders from each primary response agency can provide clear and consistent communications between agencies and with the public about progress toward controlling the leak and understanding the potential public health impacts of the release; states and local monitoring agencies should consider establishing an emergency air monitoring plan that can be expeditiously deployed in the event of a leak; and states should review their authority to require greenhouse gas mitigation plans in the event of a leak.

Recommendations for energy reliability are: industry, federal and state agencies should strengthen planning and coordination efforts to decrease the potential impacts of future prolonged disruptions of natural gas infrastructure; and industry, federal and state agencies should consider broader application of back-up strategies to reduce reliability risks associated with the abrupt loss of natural gas supplies. (Read more)

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