The Importance of Landowner Communication
The Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (“PHMSA”) Recommended Practice BL 12 expects pipeline operators to conduct regular right-of-way maintenance programs. Regular maintenance ensures that vegetation doesn’t hinder critical monitoring and inspection efforts. The bulletin points out that beyond routine monitoring, “in the event of an emergency, a clear ROW is necessary to facilitate access by both the pipeline operator and emergency response personnel.”
Such a maintenance program would be fairly simple if every right-of-way ran continuously and uninterrupted from origin to terminus through a single, fenceless plot of land. But in the real world of pipeline maintenance, there’s a complicating factor: landowners.
Let Them Know You’re Coming
Understandably, many landowners don’t want to be surprised by unfamiliar crews and heavy equipment moving through their property – regardless of whether a pipeline operator has a right to be there. So PHMSA provides practical guidance to address that possibility:
“Prior to implementing ROW maintenance activities, the pipeline operator should make a reasonable effort to contact the affected stakeholders and provide an explanation regarding the need for vegetation management activities. This should include a discussion of the rights granted under easements for the pipeline operator to maintain the ROW, and the anticipated start and completion dates for the maintenance activities.”
Few operators would argue with the reasonableness of this recommendation. But finding the time and manpower to execute it is another thing entirely. A district manager responsible for maintaining 500 miles of pipeline – particularly if the area contains Class 3 sections – may encompass hundreds of individual landowners. And the crews overseeing and maintaining those lines rarely find themselves with the kind of free time that allows for broad community canvassing.
Southern Brush employs landmen and area managers capable helping operators with landowner communication in advance of maintenance projects. Occasionally, where operators are simply understaffed or overbooked, our customers entrust us to serve as a sole point of landowner contact for the duration of our work. We appreciate their trust and take that responsibility seriously.
More Than a Maintenance Contractor
Many companies throughout the country can execute the basic mechanics of right-of-way maintenance. But few possess the capacity, professionalism, and willingness to augment an operator’s role as a liaison to the communities that they serve. Southern Brush works hard to be exactly that kind of partner for each of our customers.
Please contact us if we can help you with landowner outreach and comprehensive and right-of-way services.