Compliance and Monitoring
Lease Compliance Section Overview
The SPCO is responsible for the administration and oversight of pipeline right-of-way leases issued under the Right-of-Way Leasing Act. The role of the lease compliance section is to monitor pipelines administered by the SPCO for compliance with the ROW lease requirements.
In general, the lease compliance program integrates three separate but related elements.
- Compliance monitoring
The SPCO compliance monitoring activities primarily fall into three primary categories.
- (1) Project review and monitoring.
Lessees, on a quarterly or annual basis, submit proposals for significant construction and maintenance projects for review. Projects are generally differentiated from baseline work by the requirement for project-specific regulatory permits, and the consequent need for engineering analysis and design. For larger and more complex projects, SPCO staff (permitters, land managers, subject matter experts and engineers) and the lessee's staff (engineers, subject matter experts and land managers) conduct project specific meetings. The benefit of meeting early in the planning stage of complex projects is the identification of specific concerns, such as impacts to fish and wildlife habitat, so that engineers can design the project to avoid or mitigate these impacts. After the project final design, SPCO staff efforts shift from the planning/permitting phase to a surveillance/verification phase. Compliance monitoring is conducted from a multidisciplinary perspective because many projects encompass a broad spectrum of lease requirements such as safety, engineering, and environmental as well as specific agency permit stipulations. Staff use the lessee's Issued for Construction (IFC) package, permit requirements and the lease to develop SPCO Surveillance Checklists (surveillance reports) that contain individual requirements (attributes) identified for compliance verification. For some projects, the entire process, from issue identification to project completion, may take a several years.
- (2) Surveillance monitoring
In addition to project-based monitoring, the Compliance Section also conducts surveillances. Surveillances may be designed to serve as an independent stand-alone compliance evaluation; as the factual basis for an assessment report or technical report; and in support of an agency permit issuance determination or verification. The Compliance Section conducts both planned and unplanned surveillances. The results of surveillances are generally recorded in surveillance reports and/or lease compliance reports.
- (3) Assessments
The assessments are broader in scope than surveillance reports and tend to focus on processes or systems rather than individual requirements. As previously mentioned, surveillances are typically used as component parts of an assessment process. An assessment requires extensive planning to identify the scope, appropriate level of sampling, and the resources required. For example, an assessment of a lessee's ROW surveillance and monitoring program (SMP) would likely be planned and implemented as follows:
- Identify the lease requirements
- Determine assessment purpose - usually verification of compliance
- Define assessment scope – will the assessment review the entire surveillance and monitoring program or only a specific portion?
The scope will also identify the specific lessee facilities, activities, documents and employees included in the assessment. Identify methods –establish the specific data collection methods, which may include conducting new surveillances, using past monitoring records to evaluate compliance trends, interviews of lessee employees, review of lessee's documentation, or other appropriate methods.