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 work of the Pipelines and Facilities unit in the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) concentrates on this surface equipment as one of many pieces in DOGGR’s dual role of regulating the petroleum industry and preventing damage to public health, public safety, and environmental resources.
Pipelines and Facilities ensures that operations, maintenance, and removal or abandonment of oil and gas production infrastructure are in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. In general, pipelines within an oil field are regulated by DOGGR; the State Fire Marshal has jurisdiction over certain lines.
New pipeline regulations emphasize oil and gas production safety. For example, Pipeline Management Plans must be kept up-to-date and submitted to DOGGR 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 (2015) following a natural gas leak in a small pipeline in Arvin, California that caused eight families to evacuate in 2014.
Regulated Oil and Gas Facilities
Definition and Jurisdiction
DOGGR 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. DOGGR'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
DOGGR 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 DOGGR 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 DOGGR'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. The Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) 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 DOGGR. Staff use a Geographic Information System (GIS) to map the locations of oil and gas wells and production facilities in California. In accordance with new legislation regarding the Regulation of Production Facilities
(Oil and Gas: Pipelines, Assembly Bill 1420, approved 2015), operators of active gas pipelines in sensitive areas submitted maps identifying the location of those pipelines, along with other locational information. "Sensitive areas" include any occupied building within 300' of an active gas pipeline, or other area as determined by the Supervisor. Data from these maps is currently being added to DOGGR's GIS, illustrating active gas pipeline locations. Tank and vessel locations are also being added to the GIS.
Additional releases are scheduled for DOGGR's electronic well database, WellSTAR, which stands for Well Statewide Tracking and Reporting. The WellSTAR application will allow operators to enter the locations of their tanks and vessels; this locational information will then be displayed in DOGGR's GIS. DOGGR's objective is to locate and identify all production facilities associated with oil and gas operations in California, along with their basic characteristics, in both the WellSTAR database and in DOGGR's GIS.