Consultation on Amendments to the Pipelines Safety Regulations 1996 and the Health and Safety (Fees) Regulation

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a duty to consult stakeholders on proposals for new regulations. The HSE launched this consultation in December 2010 to seek comments on proposed amendments to the Pipelines Safety Regulations (PSR) 1996. The PSR provide a single legislative framework to cover design, construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning requirements in order to ensure the health, safety and integrity of both onshore and offshore pipelines in the UK (to the limits of the UK continental shelf). They impose general duties on all pipeline operators and additional duties on operators of major accident hazard pipelines, which are those pipelines conveying prescribed 'dangerous fluids.'

At present CO2 is not included as a 'dangerous fluid' under the PSR, meaning that CO2 pipelines are not subject to the requirements for major accident hazard pipelines. The HSE and the Department for Energy and Climate Change have suggested that, for the purpose of UK CCS Demonstration Competition, CO2 be treated as if it were listed as a dangerous fluid. This approach would extend the requirements for 'major accident hazard pipelines' to CO2 pipelines.

In the HSE's 2006 Energy Review, potential leakage from CO2 transport was highlighted as possibly resulting in a major accident hazard. Studies of the risks and hazards posed by CO2 pipelines suggested to HSE that CO2 warranted inclusion in the regulatory regime for other major accident hazards. HSE therefore proposed that CO2 be regulated as a dangerous fluid under the PSR by including it in Schedule 2 of the regulation.

The consultation sought views on:

  • whether HSE should adopt a precautionary approach and include CO2 as a fluid in PSR
  • whether further specifications should be introduced when including CO2 within the PSR (e.g. pipeline diameter and length)
  • whether stakeholders were aware of other UK industries that currently transport CO2 via pipeline.

There was general agreement among respondents that the HSE should adopt a precautionary approach until there is a better understanding of the hazards and risks of CO2 transport via pipeline. Some stakeholders expressed concerns about using the current scientific knowledge as a basis for justifying the inclusion of CO2 as a dangerous fluid and about setting additional specifications for siting and operating CO2 pipelines.

Despite the general agreement from stakeholders with the proposed amendment, HSE has decided that it is still too early in the process of developing CCS to legislate in the area of CO2 pipelines and has postponed this amendment. Until such an amendment is adopted, CO2 remains outside the scope of Part III of the PSR.

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