PUCO Answers Pipeline Regulation Questions

Media release from the Ohio Public Utilities Commission:

PUCO helps answer questions about natural gas pipelines in Ohio

COLUMBUS, OHIO (Nov. 7, 2013) – Natural gas exploration and production has surged in the last few years as energy companies explore and produce within the Utica and Marcellus Shale natural gas formations. Natural gas is transported from the site of production to a refinery, and also to its end destination of consumption, by pipeline.
State authorities such as the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) oversee various aspects of Ohio’s natural gas pipeline system to ensure its safe, reliable and environmentally sound operation. In addition to the State’s jurisdiction, the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have federal authority overseeing various aspects of gas pipeline siting and safety.
As gas pipeline activity has increased across the state, so have the questions regarding jurisdiction over this new infrastructure. Here are some of the more frequently asked questions posed to the PUCO and OPSB along with an organizational chart outlining the different siting and safety jurisdictions based on the type of pipeline project.  
Who regulates the siting of pipelines?
The OPSB certifies intrastate gas pipelines within the state of Ohio that are greater than 500 feet in length and 9 inches in diameter and designed with a maximum allowable operating pressure of greater than 125 psi. Production lines are under the jurisdiction of the ODNR. Gathering lines and liquid lines fall under local zoning jurisdiction. Interstate lines fall under the jurisdiction of the FERC.
What is a gathering pipeline?
A gathering line is any pipeline upstream from a processing facility, any line carrying gas from a processing facility to a fractionation plant and any line carrying natural gas from a processing plant to an interstate or intrastate pipeline.
What is a liquids pipeline?
For these purposes, liquids are defined as an individual finished product produced by a natural gas liquids fractionation plant and generally include ethane, propane, butanes and natural gasoline pipelines.
Who regulates the siting of compressor stations, processing facilities and fractionation plants?
Compressor stations may fall under the jurisdiction of certified local building departments, where applicable. Whereas processing facilities and liquid fractionation plants fall under the jurisdiction of local zoning authorities.
Does the Ohio Department of Natural Resources have a role in siting regulation?
The ODNR has jurisdiction over production operation facilities on the well head site, which includes the siting of production pipelines.
Is there any further oversight once the pipelines are operational? 
The PUCO regulates the safety aspects of most gas pipelines, including gathering lines, located within the state of Ohio. Pipeline operators must notify the PUCO before constructing new gas pipelines and again before placing these lines into service. The PUCO Pipeline Safety Section monitors the construction of these lines and conducts routine inspections and audits once the lines are placed in service. The only exceptions to PUCO safety jurisdiction are production lines, which are regulated by ODNR, and liquids and interstate lines, which are regulated by the PHMSA.
Ohio Gas Infrastructure Jurisdiction
Project Type
Siting Jurisdiction
Safety Jurisdiction
Natural gas distribution/transmission (intrastate)*
Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB)
Natural gas transmission (interstate)
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
Production lines
Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR)
Gathering lines
Local zoning authorities
Liquids lines
Local zoning authorities
Compressor stations
Certified local building departments
Certified local building departments
Processing facilities and fractionation plants
Local zoning authorities
Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Industrial Compliance
*OPSB jurisdiction is limited to intrastate lines greater than 500 feet in length and 9 inches in diameter with a maximum allowable operating pressure of greater than 125 psi.
Where can I find more information?
  • Ohio Senate Bill 315, passed on June 11, 2012, established a new regulatory framework for overseeing Ohio’s oil and gas industry.
  • Information on the Utica Shale play and the ODNR Oil & Gas Division may be found at: http://www.ohiodnr.com.
  • Information about the PUCO and its role in pipeline safety may be found by contacting the PUCO at (800) 686-PUCO (7826) or www.PUCO.ohio.gov.
Natural Gas Pipelines in Ohio
In Ohio, more than three million people use natural gas. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is committed to ensuring the safe, reliable and environmentally sound operation of Ohio's natural gas pipeline system. The natural gas industry is a complex network of companies that produce, transport and distribute natural gas. The PUCO oversees more than 56,000 miles of distribution lines, which provide natural gas to individual users, as well as more than 10,000 miles of transmission lines.
PUCO investigators inspect each natural gas pipeline system in the state at least once every two years and review records and procedures implemented by utilities. When violations are detected, the PUCO orders corrective action and may assess fines and other penalties to ensure that Ohio’s natural gas pipeline systems continue to deliver natural gas safely and reliably.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is the sole agency charged with regulating public utility service. The role of the PUCO is to assure all residential, business, and industrial consumers have access to adequate, safe, and reliable utility services at fair prices while facilitating an environment that provides competitive choices. Consumers with utility-related questions or concerns can call the PUCO Call Center at (800) 686-PUCO (7826) and speak with a representative.
- See more at: http://www.puco.ohio.gov/puco/index.cfm/media-room/media-releases/puco-helps-answer-questions-about-natural-gas-pipelines-in-ohio/#sthash.pqSzGtT8.dpuf

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