On April 12, 2017, the National Energy Board (NEB) of Canada issued a Safety Advisory NEB SA 2016-01A – Pipeline Fitting Materials Quality Assurance. It states, in part:
“The National Energy Board (NEB or the Board) is aware of instances of pipe and components not meeting material specifications on pipelines under NEB or other regulatory bodies’ jurisdiction. In the cases examined, documentation from the manufacturers indicated that the materials met the required specifications when received by companies. Subsequent testing indicated that some of the pipe and fittings did not meet all of the required material specifications. In some instances, the materials were determined to have been a contributing factor to pipeline failure during pressure testing. Although the cases described below appear to have been isolated, the Board has subsequently identified additional cases on pipelines in Canada and the United States (US). The issue of substandard pipe and fittings entering the market place, and subsequently being installed on pipeline systems, is an industry wide concern, which must be addressed through improved quality assurance (QA) practices.”
The advisory notes that relevant industry standards may not address these issues comprehensively, and states “the Board expects pipeline operators to develop or enhance their own fitting specifications beyond the current standards, to ensure that the fittings they acquire and install meet material property requirements.” It reminds operators that “companies must have QA programs in place to ensure that the pipe and components meet the specifications developed by the company”, and “In this case, reviewing MTRs, without independent onsite verification, may not provide sufficient protection against the introduction of components that do not meet specifications. Companies are also expected to exert greater oversight in the manufacturing process directly and/or indirectly through third party QA”.
This is an amendment to NEB SA 2016-01 on the same topic. In the United States, PHMSA has noted the same problem in their advisory bulletin ADB-09-01.
The Safety Advisory on Pipeline Fitting Materials Quality Assurance can be found on the NEB website.