Industry News

October 18, 2015 by  
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Recent Headlines – Propane Industry

Autogas Advocates Push For Inclusion in Energy Bill

BPN Staff—Jul 30, 2010

With Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on track to release the details of his new, pared-down energy plan, minus any cap and trade provisions, the legislation was expected to provide tax breaks for natural gas vehicles and infrastructure. And advocates of propane autogas were pushing the Senate to include their fuel, along with natural gas, in the vehicle and infrastructure incentive provisions.The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) July 23 launched a grass-roots letter-writing campaign to ensure propane is included in any energy bill introduced in the U.S. Senate. “The majority of propane autogas is derived from the refining of natural gas,” noted Stuart Weidie, director of the industry coalition Autogas for America. “Autogas has similar environmental benefits to natural gas and about 90% of it is produced here in America. There’s no logical reason this bill should exclude propane autogas but include natural gas.”

NPGA and Autogas for America requested that their industry flood Senate offices with letters petitioning that autogas be included in Sen. Reid’s plan. “Propane autogas is comparable to natural gas when it comes to reducing harmful emissions and, at the same time, it’s vastly less expensive to implement,” said Rick Roldan, president and CEO of NPGA. “Sen. Reid is moving this along so quickly that we’re afraid they may not include autogas. It would be a tremendous oversight by the Senate, because they’d be failing to support an alternative fuel that they’re already investing in.”

Roldan was referencing a number of Department of Energy-administered Recovery Act programs that will be implementing thousands of propane autogas vehicles and hundreds of autogas fueling stations over the next several years. Together, these programs represent about $50 million of investment on behalf of the federal government.

NPGA notes that the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions (NATGAS) Act (S. 1408) is included in Reid’s Senate package, and that the bill is the result of T. Boone Pickens’ lobbying activities. While the NATGAS Act includes a variety of natural gas-only tax credits to promote natural gas, it does not include propane. Rather, the association is supporting the Fueling America Act, S. 1350, sponsored by Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), which provides incentives for both propane and natural gas.

To facilitate letter writing, the association has prepared written examples of the issue that companies can incorporate in the letter they draft on their company letterhead, as well as a sample letter. The examples, and U.S. Senate fax numbers, are posted at www.npga.org/EnergyBillGrassroots. To receive assistance in creating a letter, contact Brian Caudill at bcaudill@npga.org or 202/355-1326. NPGA is strongly encouraging all member companies, and all employees, to get involved in the grass-roots effort. Also requested is that participants fax a copy of letters to Tara Falls at 202/466-7205. State propane associations are also involved in the campaign, and questions may be directed to association representatives.

Powerblanket® Now Marks Propane Cylinder Warmers, Drum Heaters, Ground Thawers, and Concrete Curing Blankets as UL/CSA Certified.

BPN Staff—July 29, 2010

Powerblanket®, the producer of a revolutionary new heat spreading technology referred to as GreenHeat® Technology, announced today that they are now UL/CSA certified on a host of additional products including heated pipe wraps & propane tank warmers. This means that they can make and mark their products such as drum heaters, cylinder warmers, ground thawers, concrete curing blankets, and other heat spreading devices as being UL/CSA certified.  Original 2009 release follows…

Salt Lake City, UT (PRWEB) October 24, 2009 — Powerblanket® announced today the achievement of their final UL/CSA certification. Powerblanket® contracted with Intertek Group for this certification which resulted in an 18 month process to bring their factories and manufacturing processes up to UL/CSA standards. Intertek Site Inspectors visited the Powerblanket® manufacturing plant in Salt Lake City on October 13th to perform a factory audit of procedures and processes. The successful outcome of this audit has given Powerblanket the authority to mark their products, which include drum heaters, cylinder warmers, ground thawers, concrete curing blankets, and other heat spreading devices, in conformance with UL/CSA standards.

With this new certification in hand, Powerblanket® plans to move quickly into the Canadian and European Marketplace. Several pending military and government contracts requiring UL/CSA products will be finalized in the coming days & weeks. Companies worldwide will now have access to Powerblanket’s® GreenHeat® Technology allowing them affordable solutions for thawing, heating, melting, and curing.

Powerblanket®, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is the producer of a revolutionary new heat spreading technology referred to as GreenHeat® Technology. Their 120, 240 and 12 volt electric heating blankets are designed to thaw ground quickly, cure concrete, melt snow & ice, heat drums & barrels, and provide warmth to a vast array of products and applications. Buy Powerblanket online @ www.heatauthority.com or call 866-805-HEAT for more details on this revolutionary new heating technology.

Marketer Training Program To Extend Through October

BPN Staff—Jul 29, 2010

Marketer training covering the business potential of three products that can help stimulate propane demand—commercial lawn mowers, tankless water heaters, and irrigation engines—will extend through October across the country. Each full-day training session features two of the three products. The training is designed to enhance marketers’ understanding of applications that can offset seasonal propane demand.

Upcoming sessions are scheduled in Raleigh, N.C. July 29; Boxborough, Mass. Aug. 10; Richmond, Va. Aug. 12; Prattville, Ala. Aug. 19; Pasadena, Calif. Aug. 26; Monterey, Calif. Sept. 23; Frankfort, Ky. Sept. 29; St. Augustine, Fla. Oct. 4; and Flintstone, Md. Oct. 26.

The program debuted in Wisconsin in May, and evaluations of the program have been positive. The training covers basic installation, energy efficiency and environmental impact, consumer benefits, and implementation obstacles. “To grow, the industry must learn all we can about propane-fueled products that can create new demand and share information about their benefits with potential users,” said Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) president Roy Willis. “That’s where the PERC Marketer Technology Training program comes in. It gives marketers the information to confidently talk with consumers about propane products that can stimulate propane demand.”

“This program targets markets that are counter-seasonal, which will level annual loads, allowing us to better utilize our equipment and fuel infrastructure,” notes Joe Cordill of Cordill Propane Service (Winnsboro, La.), 2009 chairman of the National Propane Gas Association. “It emphasizes advantages propane has in addition to economic benefits. The mower market is an emerging market for us, and we’ll definitely be able to use this program in our company.”

For additional information, contact Maryann Malesardi at maryann.malesardi@propanecouncil.org or 202/452-8975.

RRC Commissioner Responds To EPA Study Hearing

BPN Staff—Jul 29, 2010

Texas Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Ames Jones is confident that the geology in Texas, combined with safeguards required by the Railroad Commission in the drilling of gas wells, do not support the notion that water used in hydraulic fracturing will migrate to the water table. “With many thousands of fracs taking place in Texas, commission records do not indicate a single documented water contamination case associated with hydraulic fracturing in our state,” she comments.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was in Fort Worth early this month to conduct a public meeting on a study it is proposing to determine if there are links between hydraulic fracturing and its potential impact on drinking water contamination (Newsletter, June 28, p. 3). EPA is soliciting public comments on the draft study plan.

The Railroad Commission of Texas has provided the regulatory framework for virtually all of the oil and gas production activity in the state, including more than 50 years of hydraulic fracturing. “This agency does not allow the permitting of a well where hydraulic fracturing will be used without certification from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) that identifies the depth that groundwater must be protected by cement and steel,” notes Ms. Jones. “Water tables, that yield water for human consumption, can extend to a depth of 1000 feet in some areas of the Barnett Shale gas and oil production. The horizontal lateral pipes are placed an average depth of 7500 feet—more than a mile and a half below the earth’s surface.”

She adds that area well logs around any proposed well are evaluated by geologists and hydrologists at TCEQ and the depth of the surface casing to protect fresh water formations in every new well is determined by TCEQ. Those determinations are then submitted to the Railroad Commission for consideration before drilling permits are issued.

“The study the EPA is conducting, like other studies in the past, will show the positive benefits of this homegrown technology that has increased our supply of clean-burning natural gas that makes America more energy secure,” Ms. Jones maintains. “With the oversight of the Railroad Commission, Texas’s natural gas, produced using innovative technology, will contribute mightily and responsibly to the nation’s energy mix at a time when we sorely need it.”

Agreement Paves Way For Hydrocarbon Refrigerant

BPN Staff—Jul 29, 2010

ComStar International (College Point, N.Y.) and A.S. Trust & Holding (Kaneohe, Hawaii) have signed an agreement to manufacture, market, and distribute the hydrocarbon refrigerant HCR188C1, a patented blend of ethane, propane, butane, and other pure hydrocarbons.

The partners note the refrigerant displays a zero ozone-depleting rating and is the first hydrocarbon refrigerant approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for sale in the U.S., with the public comment process having been completed July 9. The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has rated HCR188C1 to be non-toxic. In addition, the coolant is now a listed refrigerant with independent testing, inspection, and certification partner Intertek Testing Services.

HCR188C1, designed to replace chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, and hydrofluorocarbons, will soon be in the public comment stage as solicited by ASHRAE. Results are expected by October for a final EPA SNAP ruling to list the coolant as an approved alternative refrigerant for use in household refrigerators and stand-along freezers. SNAP refers to the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy initiative, a part of the Clean Air Act.

The new refrigerant is said to operate effectively as a direct replacement in appliances and air-conditioning systems designed for traditional coolants. Though flammable, the product partners note, HCR188C1 is used in small amounts, presenting a negligible risk. To mitigate risk, A.S. Trust & Holding holds a patent on a refrigerant safety service port valve that can be used on larger systems. The valve operates by shutting down the system when there is a drop in operating pressure.

Ford to Begin Offering Alt-Fuel Prep Package

BPN Staff—Jul 29, 2010

Ford Motor Co. has informed its North American fleet customers it will begin offering an alternative fuels prep package for its 6.8-liter F-450 and F-550 Super Duty chassis. The F-450 and F-550 are Ford’s latest vehicles to get the alternative fuel conversion option.

Since introducing the option to E-Series and other commercial fleet vehicles last fall, Ford notes it has shipped about 3000 E-Series vans with 5.4-liter and 6.8-liter engines prepped for LPG/CNG to fleet operators such as Verizon and Schwan’s. Ford provides calibration guidance to LPG and CNG upfitters for E-Series, F-Series, and Transit Connect. By following Ford recommendations, the converted vehicle maintains its factory warranty.

Ford offers the alternative fuel package on its Transit Connect, including its new taxi offering with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine. This fall, Ford says it will also add LPG/CNG capability to the F-53 motor home chassis and its new F-59 commercial chassis. Ford’s 6.8-liter, V-10 engine with the prep package includes hardened exhaust valves and valve seats for improved wear resistance and durability for gaseous fuel systems.

“Compressed natural gas and propane offer more than sufficient power for vehicles because they are high-energy fuels,” said Rob Stevens, Ford’s commercial vehicle chief engineer. “Other natural benefits for these fuels are overall lower emissions of greenhouse gases compared to gasoline and lower fuel and operating costs for their fleet.”

Kansas Scholarship Top Off 7 26

BPN Staff—Jul 29, 2010

…The Propane Marketers of Kansas’ (PMAK) Beth Johnson Scholarship Foundation has donated $75,000 to the National Propane Gas Foundation Scholarship Fund, becoming the fund’s newest Platinum Plus Donor. Through the donation, PMAK’s Beth Johnson Memorial scholarships will now be administered by the National Propane Gas Foundation, which will award two $2000 scholarships annually to dependents of National Propane Gas Association members who reside in Kansas…

NPGA Award Top Off 7 26

BPN Staff—Jul 29, 2010

…The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) has been notified it will be receiving the 2010 Corporate Award of Merit at the upcoming meeting of the CSA Standards committees in Orlando, Fla. in September. NPGA is being recognized by CSA Standards for “outstanding achievement and for a high level of involvement in the development and advancement of standards, both nationally and internationally.” NPGA has participated on the CSA-administered Z21/83 Standards Committee for Fuel Gas Appliances for decades, and also sponsors several of its members for their participation on various technical advisory groups that write gas appliance standards…

Study Reveals Large Market For CHP Systems

BPN Staff—Jul 29, 2010

A new industry-sponsored study prepared by Resource Dynamics Corp. (McLean, Va.) identifies advanced distribution generation applications with the potential to increase U.S. propane sales. According to the study, “Propane Distributed Generation Market Assessment,” the largest potential market for propane-fueled distributed generation is commercial and industrial combined heat and power, or CHP.

According to Resource Dynamics, CHP systems could consume 430 MMgal. of propane a year. To help capture that emerging market, the Propane Education & Research Council is field-testing CHP systems to verify their performance in real-world settings.

An 810-kw CHP system has been installed at a resort in Kauai, Hawaii, and a 4.7-kw Ecopower micro-CHP system is being evaluated at a greenhouse in Pennsylvania. Another 1.2-kw Freewatt Plus system has been installed at three small commercial sites in the Northeast, and a 10-kw Yanmar micro-CHP system is being evaluated for commercial use. To download the report, visit

Sunoco Butane Top Off 7 26

BPN Staff—Jul 29, 2010

…Sunoco Logistics Partners (Philadelphia) has acquired the butane blending business of Texon (Houston) for a reported $140 million plus inventory. Sunoco Logistics expects to fund the acquisition with a $100-million loan from parent company Sunoco and borrowings under its revolving credit facility. The transaction is expected to close this month. The business consists of patented technology for blending of butane into gasoline, contracts with several terminal operators, butane inventories, and other assets…

 

CSB to Appeal Vote Rejecting Training Comment

BPN Staff—Jul 29, 2010

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) intends to appeal an NFPA Technical Committee on Liquefied Petroleum Gases vote rejecting a comment it submitted regarding revising NFPA 58 to add requirements for the training of industry personnel, reports the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA).

NPGA notes that CSB developed a proposal and Comment 58-49 to change NFPA 58 following its investigation of the propane incident that occurred at the Little General Store in Ghent, W. Va. The CSB proposal would require all industry training programs to include the following components: recognition of the safety and health hazards of working with propane; a description of safe work practices; actions to take during emergency response; supervised, on-the-job training; and testing and performance evaluation.

The NFPA Technical Committee on LPG objected to some of the language in the CSB proposal, comments NPGA, that may be interpreted to require the training mandates apply to others outside the industry, such as personnel who work at convenience stores and assist customers in loading cylinders into vehicles. The Technical Committee voted to request its chairman to formally oppose the CSB appeal at the Standards Council meeting in August, and to ask the council to reject the appeal.

In addition, the committee voted to have its chairman propose that a tentative interim amendment be developed to address the concerns of the CSB.

API Survey Top Off 7 26

BPN Staff—Jul 29, 2010

…Completed 2009 American Petroleum Institute (API) survey of sales of natural gas liquids and liquefied refinery gases are due Aug. 9. Completing and returning the annual API survey is critical to the allocation of state rebates by the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), which account for one out of every five dollars PERC oversees. The survey is also the propane industry’s benchmark for overall propane sales and assessment collections, and it is the primary source on propane sales by market—residential, commercial, engine fuel, agriculture, etc. To request a survey or for information, contact Crystal Harrod of API at harrod@api.org, or call 202/682-8492…

EIA Requests Updated Contact Information

BPN Staff—Jul 29, 2010

The Gas Processors Association (GPA) notes that as the traditionally most active months of the hurricane season are approaching, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is planning its emergency response.

 

In this effort, EIA is asking GPA members and natural gas processing plant operators to submit any updates to emergency contact names, telephone numbers, and e-mail address. Of particular interest to EIA are any emergency contact staff changes that may have occurred, namely the staff that can provide status updates to EIA on operations during a supply emergency.

In addition, EIA is asking that all processing plant operators report any ownership or operator changes, plant decommissions, and/or acquisitions. Contact information and additional plant information was initially requested on Form EIA-757, http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/natural_gas/survey_forms/eia

757af.pdf. For additional information, contact Lejla Alic of EIA at 202/586-0858 or Lance Stewart at 202/586-8926. E-mail updated information to OOGEIA-757@eia.doe.gov.

OSHA Proposes Updates, Removing Redundancies

BPN Staff—Jul 8, 2010

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) is focusing on removing or revising safety and health standards that have requirements that are confusing, outdated, duplicative, unnecessary, or inconsistent, notes the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA).

The effort is under the agency’s continuing efforts to build upon its Standards Improvement Project. To that end, OSHA has published a proposed rule to update its regulations with references to more current industry consensus standards.

Regulations and standards under current consideration that could potentially impact NPGA members are 29 CFR Part 1910, Subpart E-Means of Egress, Subpart I-Training Certification Records for Personal Protective Equipment, and Subpart J-Slings. Also under consideration are an update of NFPA’s Life Safety Code to the 2006 edition and independent compliance options via NFPA’s Life Safety Code 101 and the International Code Council’s International Fire Code.

NPGA notes that OSHA believes that the proposed revisions will reduce compliance costs, eliminate paperwork burdens, and clarify requirements without diminishing worker protections. Comments are due Sept. 30. For more information, contact Robert Elliot, NPGA director of regulatory affairs, at relliott@npga.org.

Northwest Propane Association Adds Hawaii, Changes Name

BPN Staff—Jul 8, 2010

The Northwest Propane Gas Association has changed its name to the Pacific Propane Gas Association (PPGA) and has added Hawaii as a member state. The name change and addition of Hawaii were approved by association members in June at the annual meeting in Welches, Ore. The new Pacific Propane Gas Association represents Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington.

“With the addition of Hawaii to our association, we felt a name change was in order,” said Lloyd Pope, vice president and regional manager of Heritage Propane and president of PPGA. “Our new name, Pacific Propane Gas Association, better represents our membership.”

 

“It’s a pleasure to welcome Hawaii marketers into the PPGA,” added Baron Glassgow, PPGA executive director. “The association has been collaborating with Hawaii on special projects since 2003, and started discussions with Hawaii marketers in 2008 regarding joining the association. Dan Binning, regional manager, western division of AmeriGas, noted, “The inclusion of Hawaii into the now Pacific Propane Gas Association is the hallmark of a stronger regional affiliation that will benefit all four states and the industry as a whole.”

PPGA’s roots go back to the formation of the Washington and Oregon Propane Gas Associations in the early 1960s. Those groups merged in 1985 to form the Northwest Propane Gas Association. Alaska joined as a member state in 2000.

Ergonomics Rulemaking Back As OSHA Considers “I2P2”

BPN Staff—Jul 8, 2010

The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) reports that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) is seeking to reprise its Ergonomics Rulemaking after more than a decade. NPGA reminds its members that OSHA more than 10 years ago sought to impose a controversial rulemaking that would have required employers in general industry workplaces to establish safety and health programs.

Some of the proposed elements of the program included management leadership and employee participation; hazard identification and assessment; hazard prevention and control; and information, training, and evaluation of programs effectiveness. Numerous industries and organizations, including NPGA, opposed the proposed ergonomics-related requirements. Ultimately, notes the association, the rulemaking effort was withdrawn from OSHA’s regulatory agenda in 2002 with the arrival of a new presidential administration.

However, with a different administration now in Washington, OSHA has scheduled a series of stakeholder meetings this summer that will focus on Injury Illness Prevention Programs, which the agency refers to as “I2P2,” observes NPGA. The association reports that OSHA plans to use information gathered at the stakeholder meetings to develop an Injury Illness Prevention Program proposed rule that will “help employers reduce workplace injuries and illnesses through a systematic process that proactively addresses workplace safety and health hazards.”

OSHA has stated it believes that an Injury and Illness Prevention Program would include many of the same elements discussed during the ergonomics rulemaking in the late 1990s. In addition, other topics to be discussed include possible regulatory approaches, scope and application of the rule, industries covered, employers covered and injury rates, the role of consensus standards, economic impact, and even what is the most appropriate name for OSHA to use in describing the topic.

NPGA plans to participate in the stakeholders meeting scheduled for July 20 in Washington, D.C. For more information, contact Robert Elliott, NPGA director of regulatory affairs, at relliott@npga.org.

Interest Groups Seek Cut In HOS Work Times

BPN Staff—Jul 8, 2010

Transport Topics notes that a coalition of interest groups that has repeatedly succeeded in challenging the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) hours-of-service (HOS) rule are pushing to dramatically cut the current daily and weekly work time limits.

 

In June the groups advocated FMCSA should slash the number of hours a driver could be behind the wheel to eight from the current limit of 11, and increase the daily mandated off-duty period to 12 hours from 10. FMCSA has a July 26 deadline for publishing a revised rule.

The coalition is led by Public Citizen and includes the Teamsters. The Public Citizen proposal would cap the workday at a maximum of 12 hours, a two-hour cut from the 14-hour workday in the current rule. It would also require drivers using a sleeper berth to spend more than eight consecutive hours in the berth.

Public Citizen, along with Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways, Parents Against Tired Truckers, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, and the Teamsters, has sued FMCSA several times since 2003 to overturn the HOS rule. In 2004 and 2007, the coalition succeeded in getting a federal court to strike down all or some of the rule. Last year, in the face of a third lawsuit over the regulation, FMCSA agreed to review the rule as part of a court settlement.

RRC Launches Blog for Clean Propane Vehicles

BPN Staff—Jul 8, 2010

The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) has launched a Clean Propane Vehicles blog to help Texans stay informed about the commission’s $12.6-million stimulus grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The commission has a goal to put another 800 propane-fueled vehicles on the road for its grant partners, including school districts and public agencies, during the next two years.

The blog may be accessed at blogs.rrc.state.tx.us/TPF/. It is designed as a resource for those considering adding propane vehicles to their fleet, or who wish to learn more about the latest propane technology. RRC commissioner Michael Williams is inviting everyone to share their thoughts and questions on the blog.

The commission will post case studies of successful propane fleets, an online cost calculator, lists of available OEM (original equipment manufacturer) propane vehicles and certified retrofit fuel systems, information about free Railroad Commission technical and safety training, and other topics of interest to current and potential grant partners.

Dixie Pipeline Rupture Halts Mainline Operations

BPN Staff—Jul 8, 2010

Enterprise Products Operating LLC (Houston) said July 6 that a Dixie Pipeline rupture and subsequent propane release the previous day near the Georgia-South Carolina border had halted mainline operations eastward. As a result of the release, the pipeline’s ability to maintain schedules and comply with shippers’ withdrawal requirements are being affected.

As of July 5, the Dixie was unable to deliver propane to Lexington, Cheraw, or Bethune S.C. or to Apex, N.C. Mainline operations continue from points westward of the release, including at Demopolis and Opelika, Ala. and Milner, Albany, and Alma, Ga.

Enterprise Products said it was working closely with all appropriate government agencies on an investigation of the rupture. Once the investigation is complete, it will take a number of days to return the pipeline to service.

NHTSA Seeking Comments On Fuel Efficiency Standard

BPN Staff—Jul 8, 2010

The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is seeking input and public comments on the possible environmental effects of President Obama’s proposed fuel-efficiency standard for heavy trucks, reports Lane Line magazine.

In May, the president announced that NHTSA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would be developing the first standard to reduce tailpipe emissions from heavy trucks. He maintained that trucks could make significant gains in fuel economy using technology that exists today, and called upon NHTSA and EPA to develop a rulemaking.

The Federal Register June 14 outlined NHTSA’s intention to draft an environmental impact statement on the proposal and to seek comments from government agencies and the public through July 14. Once the environmental statement is drafted, NHTSA will initiate another round of public comments. NHTSA’s proposal to draft an environmental impact statement appears in the Federal Register as Docket No. 2010-0079.

Comments are accepted online, by mail, delivery, or fax as follows: online at http://www.regulations.gov; by mail or delivery to Docket Management Facility, M-30, U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, Washington, D.C. 20590; or by fax to 202/493-2251.

Trucking Execs Concerned Over Liability Issues With CSA 2010

BPN Staff—Jul 8, 2010

Some trucking executives are expressing concern that providing additional training to their contract drivers to meet standards under the federal government’s new safety monitoring program—CSA 2010—may put their independent contractor status at risk.

Transport Topics reports that although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is assuring carriers they won’t run afoul of labor laws by providing CSA 2010 training, industry representatives remain concerned. One executive told the magazine that “as soon as you start training an independent contractor driver…on the system that’s going to be used to measure them, I think you have the potential to cross the line to training them on core skills that as independent professionals they should bring to the job.”

Executives are calling for a “safe harbor” provision that allows fleets to provide safety training to their owner-operators without jeopardizing the independent contractor status of those drivers. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), meanwhile, explains that it looks at the entire relationship to determine if a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, and increased safety training would not, by itself, be enough to change a driver’s status.

However, trucking executives note that the Labor Department is merely one of many agencies, both at the state and federal level, that has policies and legal tests.

TS&S Committee to Meet Sept. 12-15 in Cincinnati

BPN Staff—Jul 8, 2010

The National Propane Gas Association’s (NPGA) 2010 fall Technology, Standards & Safety (TS&S) Committee meeting is scheduled for Sept. 12-15 at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza in Cincinnati. Those interested in attending may visit the NPGA website, www.npga.org, and click on the Meetings & Conventions tab for a link to the meeting.

Although the new cycle for NFPA 58 is a year away, the committee has begun to develop new proposals that will be submitted for the 2014 edition. Some of the dockets that are open are Tdc-1732, Tbpt-1728, Tef -1730, and Tdc-1744.

Under Tdc-1732, the need to require fire extinguishers in conjunction with all installations of cylinder exchange cabinets has been opened for review. Tbpt-1728 involves the study of whether primary valves should be closed at all unattended bulk plants. Tef-1730 is taking under consideration proposing new requirements to address the structural integrity of the mounting system for propane tanks in engine fuel service installed on vehicles. Finally, Tdc-1744 is being undertaken at the request of the Propane Education & Research Council’s Safety & Training Advisory Committee to develop a procedure for leak testing piping systems that have either multiple second stage regulators or are 2-psi systems.

The NPGA website includes the preliminary agenda, registration details, hotel information, and sponsorship opportunities for the TS&S Committee meeting. For reservations, call 513/521-9100 and request the NPGA group rate. The deadline for this rate is Aug. 21.

APP Propane Extends Services in Washington

BPN Staff—Jul 8, 2010

APP Propane (Tacoma, Wash.) has extended its propane products and services offerings to include the Grays Harbor County markets in Washington state. The company will now serve both residential and commercial customers throughout the area.

“APP Propane is fortunate to have the technology, a state-of-the-art fleet, and outstanding staff to rapidly deploy products and services to other areas of Washington state,” said Don Kollmansberger, APP marketing manager. “Residential and commercial customers will enjoy more choices for propane services.”

He added that moving into the Grays Harbor market was a natural extension of the previous service border in the Elma-McCleary area. APP Propane offers propane, above- and below-ground tanks, tank installations, and swap-out services.

APP Propane is a division of Associated Petroleum Products, which operates multiple locations in western Washington that feature bulk fuels, lubricants, and propane, in addition to CFN and Pacific Pride cardlock and retail fuel station services.

Paraco Gas Acquires Virginia Marketer

BPN Staff—Jul 8, 2010

Paraco Gas Corp. (Rye Brook, N.Y.) has acquired Ewell’s Bottled Gas of Cape Charles, Va. With the purchase, Paraco immediately assumes distribution and service to more than 200 residential customers throughout Accomack and Northampton counties in Virginia.

Paraco will operate out of Ewell’s current facilities on Lankford Highway in Belle Haven and will retain Bryan and Frank Lewis of Ewell’s Bottled Gas as consultants.

Mike Gioffree, Paraco vice president, noted that his company would continue its long-standing tradition of giving back to the community by supporting local organizations and events. “We will continue this tradition with the organizations that are important to our customers on the Eastern Shore of Virginia served by our Belle Haven location.”

Paraco Gas provides about 40 million gallons of propane to more than 75,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers in eight states. It operates 22 propane distribution facilities, and has more than 250 employees.

Offshore Oil, Gas Operators Evacuate Gulf Platforms

BPN Staff—Jul 8, 2010

The newly minted Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE), formerly the Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service, reports that offshore oil and gas operators in the Gulf of Mexico are evacuating platforms and rigs in the path of Hurricane Alex. BOEMRE is the federal agency that now regulates offshore oil and gas operations.

The agency notes that based on data from offshore operator reports submitted as of June 29, personnel had been evacuated from 28 production platforms, or 4.4% of the 634 manned platforms in the Gulf. Personnel have been evacuated from three rigs, equivalent to 5.9% of the 51 rigs currently operating in the area.

BOEMRE adds that neither the drilling rigs nor the containment vessels involved in the BP oil spill response have been required to evacuate or halt operations.

From operators’ reports, it is estimated that about 24.74% of oil production in the Gulf has been shut-in. It is also estimated that about 9.38% of natural gas production is shut-in. Estimated energy production from the Gulf of Mexico as of March 2010 is 1.6 MMbbld of oil and 6.4 Bcfd of gas, according to the agency.