Thursday, February 18, 2016

Crude Oil and CFATS Top Screen

A little over a week ago I wrote a post about the webinar that the folks at DHS Infrastructure Security Compliance Division (ISCD) held about the new Top Screen tool that they plan on rolling out this fall. One of the questions that came up in that webinar was about reporting crude oil storage on the Top Screen when that crude oil contained more than one percent of any of the 300+ chemicals currently listed on the DHS chemicals of interest (COI) list. Many of the webinar participants (myself included) came away from the response thinking that such reporting was/will be required. It seems we were mistaken.

I received an email today from Josiah J. Hortega, the main ISCD presenter at that webinar. He clarified that:

“Lastly, during the webinar crude oil was discussion and I was not able to speak to that fully at the time.  I know you have posted some blogs on that discussion and wanted to share with you that Chemicals of Interest in crude oil is not covered by CFATS see 27.203 (a)(8).”

He is, of course referring to the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) regulations at 6 CFR Part 27. Paragraph 27.203(a) provides a listing of items that a facility need not include in the Top Screen if they contain, among other things, “in naturally occurring hydrocarbon mixtures prior to entry of the mixture into a natural gas processing plant or a petroleum refining process unit. Naturally occurring hydrocarbon mixtures include condensate, crude oil, field gas, and produced water as defined in 40 CFR 68.3 [link added]” {§27.203(a)(8)}.

I would assume that crude oil that has undergone a degassing procedure, as is frequently done in the Bakken fields to reduce the flammability of the crude) remains within the DHS definition of crude oil, since it is less hazardous than before the degassing operation. Having said that, the §63.3 for crude oil is “any naturally occurring, unrefined petroleum liquid”. Lawyers could argue whether or not that degassing is a refining process, but I don’t think that ISCD has any dog in that hunt.

The gasses that have been removed from that high-volatility crude may be another story completely. The gas removed from the crude oil is essentially natural gas, or more appropriately field gas under §63.3; “gas extracted from a production well before the gas enters a natural gas processing plant”. Again a good lawyer could argue either side of the argument about if this gas was ‘extracted from a production well’.

Since these gas extraction units are typically in isolated areas of the country, I don’t think that ISCD would classify these operations as chemical facilities at high-risk of terrorist attack. Given that, I doubt that ISCD would want to get involved in a technical legal argument about these facilities being covered under {§27.203(a)(8)}. As always, that situation would almost certainly change if there were a high-profile terrorist attack on one of these facilities.

No comments:

/* Use this with templates/template-twocol.html */