CEPA members pay careful attention to every aspect of planning, constructing and operating a pipeline. This attention to quality includes selecting the actual steel that goes into each length of pipe.
For energy pipelines, manufacturers use high-quality steel that’s carefully produced using sophisticated manufacturing and testing processes. Each pipe is built with the strength to withstand pressure beyond what it will be operated at, achieving (and in many cases exceeding) the CSA Z245.1 standards (or the U.S. equivalent, API 5L).
break apart samples of the pipe steel to measure the maximum stress, or force, the material can withstand before it breaks. Other similar tests determine the maximum cold temperature the pipe can withstand, which is especially critical for pipelines installed in some Canadian climates.
(NDT) examine the completed pipes before they leave the pipe mill, using x-ray and ultrasound technologies similar to the ones used for medical tests on humans. These inspections look for any defects in the pipe. Every section of pipe must undergo ultrasonic testing before it leaves the mill. And, each pipe section is marked so it can be traced back to the original steel batch number.
is the final test before the pipe leaves the mill. This test is done to verify that the pipeline meets CSA specifications to withstand the pressure it will experience during operation. The test uses water to simulate a pressure that’s higher than the pipe will encounter in normal pipeline operation. The pressure is held for periods specified by the CSA – five seconds for pipes that are 16 inches or less in diameter, and 10 seconds for pipe diameters of 18 inches and above.
Even with the rigorous testing that’s routinely applied, pipe manufacturers are always looking for ways to improve their products. EVRAZ, which is the only fully integrated pipe manufacturer in North America, has their own research and development facility in Saskatchewan. They, and other pipe manufacturers, also routinely partner with multiple universities and research institutions to conduct research and improve testing.
About Pipelines Blog thanks Dave Coffin of EVRAZ North America and David Milmine of DM Professional Services Ltd. for their contributions to this blog post.