Oilfield exemption comment period extended

Updated Sep 11, 2012

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has extended the comment period to Oct. 5 for the agency’s regulatory guidance on oilfield exemptions published June 1.

In addition, the agency will conduct three listening sessions on the subject. The listening sessions, which are open to the public, are scheduled for Aug. 17 in Denver, Aug. 21 in Pittsburgh and September – date to be determined – in Dallas.

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 www.regulations.gov; the docket number is FMCSA-2012-0183.