Special Topics in Environmental Management

SPCC Applicability FAQs for Production, Drilling and Workover Facilities

SPCC Applicability FAQs for Production, Drilling and Workover Facilities

Q: What different types of activities at non-transportation, onshore oil production, drilling and workover facilities are covered under the SPCC rule?

A: The SPCC rule defines “facilities” as “any mobile or fixed, onshore or offshore building, property, parcel, lease, structure, installation, equipment, pipe, or pipeline (other than a vessel or a public vessel)” involved in the following activities:

  • Oil well drilling operations
  • Oil Production
  • Oil Refining
  • Oil storage,
  • Oil gathering,
  • Oil processing,
  • Oil transfer,
  • Oil distribution, and
  • Oil waste treatment, or
  • In which oil is used, as described in Appendix A of 40 CFR part 112.

Facility boundaries are determined by site-specific factors, including but not limited to ownership and operation of buildings, structures and equipment and types of activity at the same site. Some site aspects such as contiguous or non-contiguous buildings, properties, parcels, leases, structures, installations, pipes or pipelines under the same ownership or operation of the same individual may be considered separate facilities.

Q: Where in the SPCC rule are the EPA’s definitions of “transportation” and “non-transportation” related facilities?

A: The differentiation between transportation-related and non-transportation-related facilities is established in the November 24, 1971 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Secretary of Transportation and the Administrator of the EPA. This document is included in appendix A of 40 CFR part 112 and provides detailed definitions of specific facilities, equipment, operations, and exclusions for establishing whether a facility is a transportation-related facility, and thus subject to the authority of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), or a non-transportation facility and thus subject to the authority of the EPA.

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Q: What are the criteria for determining SPCC Plan applicability?

A: The two determining factors that establish the need for an SPCC Plan are:

  1. The facility stores >1,320 gallons of oil in aggregate above-ground storage or 42,000 gallons of completely buried oil storage capacity, and
  2. The facility has a “reasonable expectation of an oil discharge” to waters of the United States and/or an adjoin shoreline.

With regard to container size and SPCC applicability what containers are counted and what are not?

A: Any container that is 55- gallons in size or larger is counted toward the total oil storage amount. Containers that are not counted include five-gallon containers, 30-gallon containers and containers that are permanently closed.

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Q: At a drilling site, does the SPCC rule apply only to oil produced?

A: No, the SPCC rule covers any oils at a drilling site including, but not limited to produced water containing oil, crude oil, oily waste, fuel used for drill rig operations, and hydraulic oils. In addition, the SPCC requirements apply to vehicle fuel storage, lubrication oils used for pumpjacks, oil in transformers, liquid oil condensate, oil-based hydraulic fracturing fluids, and natural gasoline.

Q: What aspects should be considered when assessing a facility’s “reasonable expectation of an oil discharge?

A: The EPA recommends an initial determination by the owner or operator be based on the geographic and location aspects of the facility, considering its proximity to water, the contour of the land and drainage. Manmade features like secondary containment dikes around tank and impoundments should be excluded from the determination. Although it is not a requirement, the EPA also recommends documenting the determination, especially if the owner/operator concludes the facility is not subject to the SPCC rule.

Q: How does the EPA define SPCC applicability for wet gas and dry gas facilities?

A: The EPA defines liquid condensate as an oil so a natural gas production facility that stores liquid condensate in quantities meeting the SPCC quantities for applicability are covered under part 112.9 as “wet gas production facilities.” The EPA does not believe dry gas production facilities are oil production facilities (i.e., oil production, oil recovery or oil recycling) unless condensate or other oil is stored at the facility to make it otherwise regulated.


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