After a well produces oil and gas, the petroleum goes through a production facility comprised of equipment, tanks, pressure vessels, and pipelines. The equipment and systems prepare the oil and gas for sale to refineries or gas utilities. The Pipelines and Facilities unit in the Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) oversees this surface equipment as one of many pieces in CalGEM's mission to protect health, safeguard the environment, and advance California's climate and energy goals in the regulation of the petroleum industry.
The Pipelines and Facilities staff ensures that operations, maintenance, and removal or abandonment of oil and gas production infrastructure are in compliance with applicable statutes and regulations. In general, pipelines within an oil field are regulated by CalGEM; the State Fire Marshal has jurisdiction over certain lines.
Recent pipeline regulations (PDF) emphasize oil and gas production safety. For example, Pipeline Management Plans must be kept up-to-date and submitted to CalGEM for evaluation of risk assessment. The rules establish that active, older pipelines near "sensitive areas" such as occupied buildings must undergo mechanical integrity testing. The regulations were developed in response to
Oil and Gas: Pipelines, Assembly Bill 1420 (Salas, 2015) following a natural gas leak in a small pipeline in Arvin, California, that caused eight families to evacuate in 2014.
Gas Pipeline Mapping Discussion Drafts
(for active gas pipelines in sensitive areas)
On May 17, 2019, CalGEM released pre-rulemaking discussion drafts of regulations and specifications for the development of digital submission guidelines for mapping active gas pipelines in sensitive areas. For the purpose of mapping active gas pipelines, "sensitive area" means an area containing a building intended for human occupancy that is located within 300 feet of an active gas pipeline, or other area as determined by the State Supervisor of Oil and Gas. CalGEM staff are reviewing public comments received on the drafts.
Regulated Oil and Gas Facilities
Definition and Jurisdiction
CalGEM regulates all oil and gas production equipment between the wellhead, where oil or gas leaves the ground, and the sales meter, where ownership or custody changes. CalGEM's jurisdiction extends to tanks, pumps, valves, compressors, safety systems, separators, manifolds, and pipelines associated with oil and gas production and injection operations.
Regulated Oil and Gas Pipelines
CalGEM regulates all oil and gas pipelines between the wellhead, where oil or gas leaves the ground, and the sales meter, where ownership or custody changes. The pipelines regulated by CalGEM transport crude oil, liquid hydrocarbons, combustible gases, and produced water. Newly installed pipelines shall be designed, constructed, and all pipelines shall be tested, operated, and maintained in accordance with good oil field practice and applicable standards. All aboveground pipelines must be inspected annually for leaks and corrosion. Any active pipeline that has a
reportable release must be taken out of service, repaired, and must pass pressure-testing before it is reactivated and returned to service.
Three components of CalGEM's environmental protection plan are spill contingency plans, secondary containment measures, and the use of sumps. Each operator must formulate a Spill Contingency Plan to prevent and respond to unauthorized releases of fluid and other substances. Secondary containment is an engineered impoundment that is designed to capture fluid released from an oil or gas production facility, such as a tank or vessel. A sump or pit is an open excavation used for collecting or storing fluids used or produced from oil and gas operations.
Out-of-Service Surface Production Facilities and Removal
Out-of-Service production facility equipment, such as tanks, vessels, or pipelines can no longer safely contain fluid or operate as designed. CalGEM has prescribed specific requirements for the maintenance, inspection, and decommission of Out-of-Service equipment. The requirements for managing Out-of-Service production equipment follow.
Facilities, Tank, and Pipeline Status Chart
Mapping, GIS, and WellSTAR
Mapping the locations of pipelines, tanks, and vessels is an ongoing project at CalGEM. In accordance with California Code of Regulations, title 14, section 1774.2, operators of active gas pipelines in sensitive areas must submit maps identifying the location of those pipelines, along with other locational information. "Sensitive areas" include any area containing a building intended for human occupancy located within 300 feet of an active gas pipeline, or other area as determined by the Supervisor.
New rulemaking is underway that will require operators to submit mapping information and locational data, including pipeline characteristics, in digital form on active gas pipelines in sensitive areas. This information will be added to CalGEM's Gas Pipeline Mapping System (GPMS), a Geographic Information System (GIS), that CalGEM developed and maintains to assist with regulating active gas pipelines in sensitive areas. GPMS is part of CalGEM’s electronic well data management system called WellSTAR, which stands for Well Statewide Tracking and Reporting.
Using WellSTAR, operators can also review and update the location of tanks and vessels associated with their operations. This information can be viewed on maps that access GPMS and other CalGEM's GIS information. CalGEM's objective is to locate all production facilities associated with oil and gas operations in California, and along with their basic characteristics, identify them within GIS and WellSTAR.