States Form Natural Gas Work Group

Work Group will examine regulatory regimens to ensure public safety and environmental protection

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – State oil and gas regulatory agencies have partnered with the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) and Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) to proactively address natural gas storage facilities and state regulations by forming a work group to recognize aging infrastructure concerns, identify technological advancements and determine the regulatory challenges.

This effort will be coordinated through the States First Initiative, led by IOGCC and GWPC, which will organize a work group consisting primarily of state regulators from across the country and will include technical advisory experts from academia, industry, non-profit organizations and federal agencies.

The Natural Gas Storage work group plans to provide current solutions, guidelines and other regulatory examples when overseeing the construction, operation, safety and abandonment of storage facilities.

About 120 entities currently operate the nearly 400 active underground storage facilities in the Lower 48 states with the majority lying in the Midwest and Eastern part of the country, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The recent Aliso Canyon event in California has compelled states to revisit their natural gas storage regulations with a focus on technological advancements and aging infrastructure to ensure protection of health, safety and the environment.

While the U.S. Department of Transportation has jurisdiction over the interstate transmission and storage of natural gas, the responsibility for enforcing the safety of storage facilities rests with state oil and gas agencies.  From a technical standpoint, a uniform federal regulation is not sound because of the geology, geography and potential risks that vary from state to state.

The work group is another example of states working together to address common issues while allowing states the flexibility to act as they see fit for their regulatory structure and varying geological conditions for continuing regulatory improvement.

The project will build upon the prior work of the IOGCC in its publication, Hydrocarbon Storage in Mined Caverns: A Guide For State Regulators first published in 2000 and Natural Gas Storage in Salt Caverns: A Guide for State Regulators first published in 1995.

States will produce a comprehensive assessment to move proactively to regulate storage of natural gas to minimize risks by adhering to clearly expressed technical guidelines and conservative operating procedures which provide protection when they are employed in a careful and reasoned manner, and therefore, federal regulations may be avoided.