Susan Olenchuk counsels clients in the oil and gas industry on pipeline safety matters before the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) Office of Pipeline Safety, and on rate, tariff, certificate, compliance and enforcement matters before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). She also represents clients in federal courts of appeal.
Pipeline Safety Compliance, Enforcement and Strategic Counseling
Susan helps operators of gas transmission and distribution pipelines, hazardous liquid pipelines and LNG facilities navigate day-to-day compliance questions involving PHMSA’s pipeline safety regulations. She helps clients think through how the regulations and other guidance apply in both routine and unanticipated operational situations and affect company decision-making. Susan assists clients in enforcement matters before both PHMSA and state agencies, working with in-house counsel, engineers, and consultants to prepare thoughtful, well-supported factual and legal arguments to help achieve satisfactory outcomes and ensure the preservation of due process. Susan also counsels on rulemaking proceedings and legislative matters and she provides on-site seminars and training on PHMSA programs, policies, processes and jurisdiction.
FERC Compliance Counseling
Susan counsels on rate, tariff, certificate, compliance and rulemaking proceedings affecting natural gas pipelines. She advises on corporate compliance matters under FERC’s affiliate Standards of Conduct and undue preference requirements under the Natural Gas Act. She also assists clients in evaluating internal processes and procedures and in developing workable and effective compliance plans and training materials that reflect best practices, conform with regulatory guidance and mandates, and achieve corporate objectives.
The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law
J.D., cum laude, 1997
University of Michigan
"Best Lawyers in America" by Best Lawyers
Energy Law, 2014-2018
Energy: Oil & Gas (Regulatory and Litigation), 2019
Legal 500 - Recommended Attorney
Energy Regulation - Oil & Gas, 2019
Energy Bar Association
Vice President, 2010-2011
Assistant Treasurer, 2007-2009
Foundation of the Energy Law Journal
Board of Directors, 2010-2013
Charitable Foundation of the Energy Bar Association
Board of Directors, 2007, 2010-2013
FERC Rate Course for the Natural Gas Interstate Pipeline Industry, sponsored by the Center for Public Utilities at the New Mexico State University
Instructor and Advisor, 2010 - Present
Representative PHMSA Experience:
Regulatory Counseling and Problem Solving under the Pipeline Safety Act
- Defended pipeline operators in multiple enforcement proceedings involving such issues as welding, operator qualification, and physical security of facilities, achieving withdrawals of Notices of Probable Violations, proposed civil penalties and compliance orders.
- Assisted in successfully resolving enforcement proceeding involving the application of PHMSA’s Part 192 MAOP and record-keeping requirements to gas distribution pipelines constructed before 1970.
- Helped operator negotiate favorable consent agreement to resolve the application of PHMSA’s Part 195 regulations to natural gas liquid fractionation facilities.
- Counseled LNG operator on a corrective action order proceeding that involved a hearing and helped with implementation issues.
- Assisted hazardous pipeline operator in managing notice of proposed safety order.
- Counseled operators with respect post-incident issues involving drug and alcohol testing.
- Advised operator in district court litigation involving jurisdictional status of plant piping.
Legislative and Regulatory Policy
- Provided gas pipeline operators with regulatory certainty in applying Part 192 MAOP requirements and conversion regulations to transmission and gathering pipelines, successfully helping operators manage real-life operational circumstances, conserve resources, and achieve business and operational objectives.
- Provided hazardous liquid pipeline operator compliance guidance and regulatory certainty in applying integrity management regulations to non-line pipe.
- Assisted pipelines in determining whether gas pipeline segments should be classified as transmission, distribution, or gathering.
- Provided gas pipeline operator regulatory certainty with respect to the construction of new road crossings over existing pipeline.
- Provided gas pipeline operators regulatory certainty regarding the classification of farm taps facilities and their regulatory status.
- Helped provide regulatory certainty to pipeline operators in assessing whether their pipelines are subject to PHMSA jurisdiction, and if so, which regulations apply.
- Guided pipeline operator in applying odorization requirements for new and existing pipelines.
- Assisted gas and hazardous liquid pipeline operators in determining jurisdictional and classification status of terminal piping.
- Helped gas pipeline operator prepare applications for special permits.
- Reviewed written compliance procedures for Control Room Management, Distribution Integrity Management, Operating and Maintenance, Emergency Response, and other PHMSA regulatory programs to assess compliance with regulatory requirements.
- Helps operators assess the impact of new PHMSA regulations in rate and abandonment proceedings before FERC.
- Identified compliance issues in connection with the acquisition and sale of assets.
- Helped trade association and pipeline operators prepare comments on complex notice of proposed rulemaking that may significantly amend safety standards for gas transmission and gathering pipelines; guided trade association on outreach to FERC regarding rate and abandonment implications of PHMSA’s notice of proposed rulemaking.
- Provides training and seminars to management, operational staff, and in-house legal staff regarding PHMSA jurisdiction and regulatory programs.
Representative FERC Experience:
- Advises natural gas pipelines and customers in rate, tariff, certificate, and rulemaking proceedings.
- Assists interstate gas pipelines with pipeline FERC rate and abandonment implications of pipeline safety regulatory developments.
- Counsels natural gas pipelines and LDCs on implementation and compliance issues arising under FERC’s affiliate Standards of Conduct and undue preference policies.
- Counsels pipelines on jurisdictional issues associated with natural gas transportation and storage services provided under Section 311 of the NGPA.