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FERC guidance on oil pipelines during pandemic

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World Pipelines,

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has pledged to act expeditiously on certain waiver and tariff requests from interstate oil pipelines to address unforeseen circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Commission issued a policy statement in which it pledged to act expeditiously on any oil pipeline requests for temporary waivers of or extensions of time to comply with certain FERC regulations where necessary and appropriate, including cost of service filing requirements, reporting requirements, record-keeping requirements, accounting regulations and depreciation studies.

“As with earlier actions the Commission has taken to provide relief for regulated entities during this pandemic, we believe this is a necessary action for oil pipelines that may need to take temporary steps to ensure their ability to continue to provide service,” FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee said.

The Commission will consider granting temporary waivers or extensions in certain circumstances arising from the COVID-19 emergency, such as an oil pipeline seeking temporarily to alter its routes, to reconfigure existing systems or to change flow direction to provide shippers access to storage. Another example may include non-jurisdictional pipelines that determine a need to provide temporarily movements into interstate commerce rather than intrastate commerce to respond quickly to current market demand.

To facilitate these and other potential operational changes, the Commission stated that oil pipelines may request tariff waivers to become effective on less than 30-days’ notice, in accordance with Commission regulations.

Requests submitted concurrently with tariff filings will be deemed conditionally granted, subject to refund. These filings also will be deemed automatically granted at the conclusion of the 30-day notice period unless the Commission issues an order denying the request.

FERC is encouraging oil pipelines to share any concerns or issues related to the impacts of COVID-19, and to resolve disputes with shippers by using FERC’s Alternate Dispute Resolution Service.

The policy statement commends the industry’s efforts to adapt to these “unprecedented circumstances while continuing to uphold their common carrier duties under the Interstate Commerce Act.”

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