FMCSA clarifies oilfield hours exceptions

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Friday, June 1, announced its revision of regulatory guidance to clarify the applicability of the oilfield operations exceptions to the hours-of-service regulations, and the agency has requested comments on the revision.

FMCSA said a significant increase in oil and gas drilling operations in many states has resulted in a major increase in commercial motor vehicle traffic to move the oilfield equipment, and to transport large quantities of supplies, such as water and sand, to the sites. The agency said operators of many of these vehicles have raised questions about the applicability of the hours-of-service oilfield operations exemptions to them.

FMCSA said in the case of specially trained drivers of CMVs that are constructed specially to service oil wells, on-duty time does not include waiting time at a natural gas or oil well site; this exception often is referred to as the “oilfield waiting time” provision. Examples of equipment that may qualify the operator/driver for the oilfield waiting time exception are heavy-coil vehicles, missile trailers, nitrogen pumps, wire-line trucks, sand storage trailers, cement pumps, “frac” pumps, blenders, hydration pumps and separators.

Operators of CMVs that are used to transport supplies, equipment and materials such as sand and water to and from the well sites do not qualify for the oilfield waiting time exception even if there have been some modifications to the vehicle to transport, load or unload the materials, and the driver required some minimal additional training in the operation of the vehicle, such as running pumps or controlling the unloading and loading processes.

To comment, go to; the docket number is FMCSA-2012-0183.