Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Transmission pipelines deliver natural gas to local distribution companies, which distribute the product through their regional or municipal networks to homes and businesses for heat and energy. They also deliver natural gas directly to large industrial end-users, including electric generating facilities.

By definition, an interstate transmission pipeline crosses one or more state boundaries. The U.S. Department of Transportation exclusively governs the safety standards for the operation of an interstate transmission pipeline, while the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is tasked with overseeing the permitting and construction approvals of anew interstate natural gas pipeline.

Read more about natural gas transmission pipelines.

Pipelines are the safest, most environmentally friendly and efficient mode of transportation, according to PHMSA. In fact, data shows that while natural gas demand has increased, the frequency of serious pipeline incidents has decreased by 90 percent over the last three decades alone, primarily as a result of significant efforts by pipeline companies to upgrade and modernize infrastructure. For additional information about pipeline safety, please visit the Federal Energy Regulation Commission.

Learn more about how natural gas gets to consumers.

While Sabal Trail is an interstate pipeline, other pipelines may be called "intrastate" pipelines. Intrastate natural gas pipelines operate within state borders and link natural gas producers to local markets and to the interstate pipeline network. Although an intrastate pipeline system is defined as one that operates totally within a state, an intrastate pipeline company may have operations in more than one state. As long as these operations are separate, that is, they do not physically interconnect, they are considered intrastate, and are not jurisdictional to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Natural gas pipelines are rigorously regulated and monitored by federal and state governments, with the process largely regulated by two federal agencies.

  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is an independent agency that is responsible for the economic regulation of the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas and oil, and is the federal agency most responsible for approving the construction of interstate natural gas pipelines.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is responsible for the regulation of interstate natural gas transmission pipeline safety. These regulations cover all phases of a pipeline’s lifecycle, including materials, design, construction, operations, maintenance, integrity management and abandonment.

Safety is, and always will be, our number one priority. Our team devotes hundreds of thousands of hours every year to keeping our systems running smoothly and without incident. We invest heavily in safety measures including:

  • Inspection and preventative maintenance programs
  • Around-the-clock monitoring of pipelines and facilities
  • Emergency response training and drills for employees and local emergency responders
  • Pressure tests on new and existing pipelines
  • Aerial and ground patrols along the pipeline right-of-way
  • Automatic shut-off and remote-control valves
  • High-quality pipeline material and protective coating

Learn more about how we keep you safe through the operation of our pipelines and assets.

Compressor stations are used to move natural gas through pipelines. They are above-ground facilities located generally every 40 to 100 miles along a pipeline. Compressor stations use natural gas or electricity to power compressors to safely pressurize the natural gas, which helps the natural gas flow efficiently for safe and reliable service.

Learn more about our compressor stations.

Compressor stations integrate a variety of safety systems and practices to protect the public and station employees and properties. For example, every station has an emergency shutdown system that stops the compressor units and isolates and vents the compressor station gas piping. Regulations require that compressor stations periodically test or perform maintenance on the emergency shutdown system to ensure reliability. During the shutdown, natural gas in the pipeline will be able to bypass the station. All compressor stations are monitored – and some are even controlled remotely – by highly-trained personnel at a centralized gas control center. Experienced personnel operate and maintain the station equipment and pipelines.

PHMSA regulates natural gas pipeline safety, including the depth at which the pipeline must be placed. In normal soil conditions, the minimum required is three feet between the top of the pipeline and the land surface. Additional cover is provided at road and waterbody crossings. Where agricultural practices or other issues warrant additional cover, the pipeline will be placed deeper than three feet. Depth specifications will be incorporated into the right-of-way agreement.

You can recognize the approximate location of a pipeline by identifying the pipeline markers. Markers should never be used as a reference for the exact location of a pipeline. All pipeline markers provide the name of the pipeline operator, product being transported and a telephone number for reporting pipeline emergencies.

The general location of transmission pipelines and contact information for the pipeline operators is available through the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS). Do not rely on the National Pipeline Mapping System or pipeline markers when planning to dig. A call to 811, the national “Call Before You Dig” telephone number, is necessary to properly locate pipelines and other buried utilities before excavation.

Learn more about natural gas pipeline regulations and how they keep you safe.

Excavation activities include the following:

  • Planting trees or shrubs, installing fence posts and building decks
  • Constructing sidewalks, steps, roads or railways, parking lots, driveways, ditches, berms, overhead or underground utilities and other facilities
  • Deep tilling, excavating, ditching, drilling, auguring, installing drain tile and stockpiling materials
  • Stripping topsoil, soil ripping, land leveling, peat removal, clearing and grading
  • Operating non-agricultural heavy vehicles or equipment on or across the right-of-way where no roadway exists

First, make the call. Always call 811, the national “Call Before You Dig” phone number, 2-3 business days before the start of excavation. When you call 811, the one call center will ask for information to help line locators find the proposed excavation site and properly mark it. You should have this information ready when you call. Depending on your location, this may include:

  • The county or parish, and city, township or village where the work is planned
  • Your work site’s street address, the road on which it is located and the nearest intersection
  • Driving directions or GPS coordinates
  • The type of work you will be doing
  • Whether you have white-lined or pre-marked the excavation area
  • A description of the area where underground utilities need to be marked
  • The date and time when excavation will begin

Professional locators will be sent to the proposed excavation site within 2-3 business days to mark the approximate locations of pipelines and other underground utilities with spray paint, flags or both so you can safely work around them. This is a free service paid for by utility companies to protect you and those around you. Once the lines are marked, respect the marks and excavate carefully around them. Be sure to adhere to any instructions or policies Sabal Trail or other utility company representatives may share with you.

Striking a pipeline could cause injuries, damage property, disrupt vital services to an entire area and lead to expensive fines and repair costs. There is always a risk of striking a pipeline or other utility, even if you think you know what might be present in the area. The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces.

Landowner Questions

Transmission pipelines deliver natural gas to local distribution companies, which distribute the product through their regional or municipal networks to homes and businesses for heat and energy. They also deliver natural gas directly to large industrial end-users, including electric generating facilities.

By definition, an interstate transmission pipeline crosses one or more state boundaries. The U.S. Department of Transportation exclusively governs the safety standards for the operation of an interstate transmission pipeline, while the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is tasked with overseeing the permitting and construction approvals of anew interstate natural gas pipeline.

Read more about natural gas transmission pipelines.

Compressor stations are used to move natural gas through pipelines. They are above-ground facilities located generally every 40 to 100 miles along a pipeline. Compressor stations use natural gas or electricity to power compressors to safely pressurize the natural gas, which helps the natural gas flow efficiently for safe and reliable service.

Look inside a compressor station.

Compressor stations integrate a variety of safety systems and practices to protect the public and station employees and properties. For example, every station has an emergency shutdown system that stops the compressor units and isolates and vents the compressor station gas piping. Regulations require that compressor stations periodically test or perform maintenance on the emergency shutdown system to ensure reliability. During the shutdown, natural gas in the pipeline will be able to bypass the station.

All compressor stations are monitored – and some are even controlled remotely – by highly-trained personnel at a centralized gas control center. Experienced personnel operate and maintain the station equipment and pipelines.

Learn more about compressor stations and emergency shutdowns.

We are committed to maintaining robust emergency response plans near all our pipelines and facilities. We update these plans regularly, making them available to local first responders along our pipeline rights-of-way. We also meet regularly with those first responders—including police, fire, and EMS—to share our emergency response procedures, and identify the roles and responsibilities of external responders who would support Sabal Trail in the event of an incident.

PHMSA regulates natural gas pipeline safety, including the depth at which the pipeline must be placed. In normal soil conditions, the minimum required is three feet between the top of the pipeline and the land surface. Additional cover is provided at road and waterbody crossings. Where agricultural practices or other issues warrant additional cover, the pipeline will be placed deeper than three feet. Depth specifications will be incorporated into the right-of-way agreement.

You can recognize the approximate location of a pipeline by identifying the pipeline markers. Markers should never be used as a reference for the exact location of a pipeline. All pipeline markers provide the name of the pipeline operator, product being transported and a telephone number for reporting pipeline emergencies.

The general location of transmission pipelines and contact information for the pipeline operators is available through the National Pipeline Mapping System (NPMS). Do not rely on the National Pipeline Mapping System or pipeline markers when planning to dig. A call to 811, the national “Call Before You Dig” telephone number, is necessary to properly locate pipelines and other buried utilities before excavation.

Natural gas may smell similar to rotten eggs. If you suspect a natural gas leak, leave the area immediately. From a safe distance, call our 24/7 emergency number at 1-888-568-7269.

A pipeline right-of-way (ROW) is a strip of land of varying widths that may contain one or more pipelines. Pipeline ROW can be identified by the pipeline markers—located at roads, railways, and other intervals along the ROW—which include the name of the operator, emergency contact information, and a general description of the product in the pipeline.

We place markers and signs along pipeline rights-of-way to inform the public of the presence of Sabal Trail’s natural gas pipelines. The markers are placed at street and road crossings, railroad crossings and other significantly visible points along the right-of-way to reduce the possibility of damage to or interference with the pipeline.

Markers and signs include our company name and the phone number to call in the event of an emergency, abnormal condition or suspicious activity.

Sabal Trail maintains clear rights-of-way to ensure that its operations remain as safe as possible to protect landowners, the public and the pipeline facilities. Sabal Trail must have unrestricted entry and access to all of its facilities at all times for regular maintenance or during emergency situations. A clear right-of-way provides easy identification and monitoring of pipeline facilities, which is imperative in preventing third-party damage. Trees and large shrubs obstruct the view for foot patrols and aerial inspections, which are routine procedures for maintenance. Tree roots also create a danger to the coating that protects the pipeline from corrosion.

An encroachment is anything that’s placed within the easement that may interfere with Sabal Trail's ability to use the easement. In most cases, the property owner may continue activities that do not pose a problem to the long-term integrity of the pipeline. Examples of encroachments that interfere with our use of the easement and are not allowed include buildings, houses, garages, excess vegetation, mobile homes, trailers, sheds, trees, poles, decks, patios, swimming pools or other structures that obstruct or impede access to or along the ROW.
Utilities, driveways, streets, roads, fences and approved parking lots generally may be placed across the pipeline easement provided they meet certain criteria required to protect the pipeline. Our ROW agents can provide landowners with that criteria—and please involve our agents early on if you are planning improvements near or across our pipelines to find out what’s required.

Excavation activities include the following:

  • Planting trees or shrubs, installing fence posts and building decks
  • Constructing sidewalks, steps, roads or railways, parking lots, driveways, ditches, berms, overhead or underground utilities and other facilities
  • Deep tilling, excavating, ditching, drilling, auguring, installing drain tile and stockpiling materials
  • Stripping topsoil, soil ripping, land leveling, peat removal, clearing and grading
  • Operating non-agricultural heavy vehicles or equipment on or across the right-of-way where no roadway exists

First, make the call. Always call 811, the national “Call Before You Dig” phone number, 2-3 business days before the start of excavation. When you call 811, the one call center will ask for information to help line locators find the proposed excavation site and properly mark it. You should have this information ready when you call. Depending on your location, this may include:

  • The county or parish, and city, township or village where the work is planned
  • Your work site’s street address, the road on which it is located and the nearest intersection
  • Driving directions or GPS coordinates
  • The type of work you will be doing
  • Whether you have white-lined or pre-marked the excavation area
  • A description of the area where underground utilities need to be marked
  • The date and time when excavation will begin

Professional locators will be sent to the proposed excavation site within 2-3 business days to mark the approximate locations of pipelines and other underground utilities with spray paint, flags or both so you can safely work around them. This is a free service paid for by utility companies to protect you and those around you.

Once the lines are marked, respect the marks and excavate carefully around them. Be sure to adhere to any instructions or policies Sabal Trail or other utility company representatives may share with you.

Striking a pipeline could cause injuries, damage property, disrupt vital services to an entire area and lead to expensive fines and repair costs. There is always a risk of striking a pipeline or other utility, even if you think you know what might be present in the area. The depth of utility lines can vary for a number of reasons, such as erosion, previous digging projects and uneven surfaces.

Natural gas pipelines are rigorously regulated and monitored by federal and state governments, with the process largely regulated by two federal agencies.

  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is an independent agency that is responsible for the economic regulation of the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas and oil, and is the federal agency most responsible for approving the construction of interstate natural gas pipelines.
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is responsible for the regulation of interstate natural gas transmission pipeline safety. These regulations cover all phases of a pipeline’s lifecycle, including materials, design, construction, operations, maintenance, integrity management and abandonment.

Learn more about natural gas pipeline regulations and how they keep you safe.

Safety is, and always will be, our number one priority. Our team devotes hundreds of thousands of hours every year to keeping our systems running smoothly and without incident. We invest heavily in safety measures including:

  • Inspection and preventative maintenance programs
  • Around-the-clock monitoring of pipelines and facilities
  • Emergency response training and drills for employees and local emergency responders
  • Pressure tests on new and existing pipelines
  • Aerial and ground patrols along the pipeline right-of-way
  • Automatic shut-off and remote-control valves
  • High-quality pipeline material and protective coating

Learn more about how we keep you safe through the operation of our pipelines and assets.