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US gas sector seeks to delay storage regulations

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Natural gas groups are urging the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to give underground gas storage facilities until 2020 to meet regulations designed to avoid major leaks.

PHMSA issued the regulations last year in response to a leak at the Aliso Canyon storage facility in California that released an estimated 4.6 Bcf (130mn m3) of natural gas and took four months to bring under control. The new regulations would require the 400 underground gas storage facilities in the US to meet the first-time federal safety standard by 18 January 2018.

But the American Gas Association, the American Petroleum Institute and two other trade groups say that compliance schedule is “not just unreasonable, but simply not practicable.” The trade groups filed their joint comments on 17 February.

PHMSA based the new safety regulations almost entirely on voluntary consensus standards that industry issued in 2015. The trade groups, in their comments, objected to PHMSA’s decision to make mandatory parts of those standards that were previously only recommended. The groups said recommended practices might not be applicable to every facility.

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