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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Pipeline Construction: Quality Action Plan

Quality Action Plan

There has been a recent increase in the amount of new pipeline installed in the U.S. Over 4,000 miles of new pipeline was constructed in 2008, and nearly the same amount is expected in 2009. This compares to about 1250 miles in 2005. Many of these new pipelines are designed to operate at higher stresses than past pipelines, under the recently issued alternative MAOP rule or special permits issued to individual pipeline projects allowing a higher MAOP. PHMSA inspection of these construction projects identified a number of recurring problems including the quality of pipe material (e.g., variable strength, sometimes not meeting specification requirements) and construction practices (e.g., inadequate welding and field coating).

PHMSA challenged the pipeline industry to define the nature and extent of these problems, change underlying standards (where needed), and propose ideas to improve the quality of pipeline construction and assure fitness for service of newly-installed pipelines. The INGAA Foundation hosted a series of workshops in 2009 to begin actions to address these problems. The workshops addressed quality assurance and quality control (March 2009), pipe quality (June 2009) and construction practices (October 2009). One product of these workshops is a Pipe Quality Plan that includes 8 action plans to address specific issues related to the overall problem of inadequate pipe quality. Some of these plans involve short-term actions which are expected to result in guidelines or white papers in the near term. Others are longer term actions to develop new standards, revise existing ones, or conduct research and development projects to understand better the causes of quality problems. 

  • Download Quality Action Plan in pdf Format

PHMSA Documents

Letter from Jeffrey Wiese (PHMSA) to Raymond Paul, Acting Executive Director, Association of Oil Pipelines, challenging industry to help define further the actions needed to improve construction performance and requesting input on a number of related issues – June 5, 2009

Letter from Jeffrey Wiese (PHMSA) to Christina Sames, Vice President Operations and Engineering, American Gas Association, challenging industry to help define further the actions needed to improve construction performance and requesting input on a number of related issues – June 5, 2009

Letter from Jeffrey Wiese (PHMSA) to Donald Santa, President, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, challenging industry to help define further the actions needed to improve construction performance and requesting input on a number of related issues – June 5, 2009

Letter from Jeffrey Wiese (PHMSA) to Peter Lidiak, Director, Pipeline, American Petroleum Institute, challenging industry to help define further the actions needed to improve construction performance and requesting input on a number of related issues – June 5, 2009

Letter from Jeffrey Wiese (PHMSA) to Rich Hoffman, Executive Director, INGAA Foundation, challenging industry to help define further the actions needed to improve construction performance and requesting input on a number of related issues – June 5, 2009

Industry Documents

Response from American Petroleum Institute & Association of Oil Pipelines to Jeffrey Wiese letter of June 5, 2009 – July 30, 2009

Response from Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (Donald Santa, INGAA) to Jeffrey Wiese letter of June 5, 2009 – June 30, 2009

Response from INGAA Foundation (Richard Hoffman) to Jeffrey Wiese letter of June 5, 2009 – July 16, 2009

Stakeholder Documents

PHMSA issued advisory bulletin ADB-10-03 to notify owners and operators of recently constructed large diameter natural gas pipeline and hazardous liquid pipeline systems of the potential for girth weld failures due to welding quality issues. Misalignment during welding of large diameter line pipe may cause in-service leaks and ruptures at pressures well below 72 percent specified minimum yield strength (SMYS). PHMSA has reviewed several recent projects constructed in 2008 and 2009 with 20-inch or greater diameter, grade X70 and higher line pipe. Metallurgical testing results of failed girth welds in pipe wall thickness transitions have found pipe segments with line pipe weld misalignment, improper bevel and wall thickness transitions, and other improper welding practices that occurred during construction. A number of the failures were located in pipeline segments with concentrated external loading due to support and backfill issues. Owners and operators of recently constructed large diameter pipelines should evaluate these lines for potential girth weld failures due to misalignment and other issues by reviewing construction and operating records and conducting engineering reviews as necessary.

Energy Pipeline Industry Pipe Quality Action Plan - July 15, 2009

PHMSA issued Advisory Bulletin 09-01 on May 21, 2009. This bulletin advises pipeline operators of material problems – inconsistent chemical and material properties – that have been found in microalloyed high-strength line pipe grades, generally grade X-70 and above. The Bulletin reports that some pipe material did not meet the requirements of the American Petroleum Institute, Specification for Line Pipe—5L, (API 5L), 43rd edition for the specified pipe grade even though the pipe supplier provided documentation that the pipe met these minimum standards. The Bulletin suggests that pipeline operators closely review manufacturing specifications for the production and rolling of steel plate and that they request detailed manufacturing procedure specifications (MPS) as a basis to assure critical parameters are controlled throughout the pipe manufacturing process.

Last updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2018