Three Meetings Set on Oilfield Hours Exemption

Several groups or organizations asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to extend the comment period and schedule the public sessions.

Three public listening sessions to discuss the oilfield operations exemption from the federal hours of service regulations will take place Aug. 17 in Denver, Aug. 21 in Coraopolis, Pa., and in September in Dallas, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced. FMCSA also has extended the comment period about its June 2012 notice concerning the exemption; comments were due by Aug. 6 but now are due by Oct. 5.

The exemption is found in 49 CFR 395.1(d). It applies to servicing of field operations, including testing, cementing, hydraulic fracturing, and other activities in the normal course of well drilling or operations. Water servicing companies working exclusively in the natural gas and oil industry also are covered.

FMCSA says the exemption applies only to drilling or operation of wells, not to exploration activities.

It applies to drivers who transport materials such as sand or water to service oilfield operations and most transport leftover materials back to a motor carrier facility or service depot, the agency has said, adding that transporting materials from one depot to another, from a railhead to a depot, or from a motor carrier terminal to a depot isn’t considered to be in direct support of field operations and thus is not covered Drivers may achieve the required eight consecutive hours off duty by combining two separate periods, each at least two hours long, of off-duty time or sleeper-berth time at a natural gas or oil well location with sleeper-berth time in a Commercial Motor Vehicle while en route to or from such a location, according to the agency. Or they may do it by combining an off-duty period of at least two hours at a well site with: 1) another off-duty period at the well site that when added to the first period equals at least eight hours or (2) a period in a sleeper-berth, either at or away from the well site, or in other sleeping accommodations at the well site, that makes the total at least eight hours.

The three meetings will be available as webcasts, FMCSA's notice said. Visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov for details and instructions.

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