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Canada NEB Reveals Faulty Pipeline Fittings

Friday, September 28, 2018

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In a recent report, Canada’s National Energy Board revealed new findings regarding hundreds of faulty pipeline fittings customarily used on major oil and gas pipelines: The fittings are not as strong as once thought, though it is likely they would be able to withstand storms, earthquakes and floods.

The fittings were reportedly not up to Canadian standards, though the NEB is not yet concerned enough to issue an order for replacements.

Faulty Fittings

The issue was first brought to the board’s attention several years ago when some pipeline parts in the U.S. were found to have expanded under pressure. In 2013, a TransCanada pipeline located in northern Alberta burst. An investigation revealed that some of the pipeline fittings had swelled, but they were not the cause of the incident.

National Ernergy Board

In a recent report, Canada’s National Energy Board revealed new findings regarding hundreds of faulty pipeline fittings customarily used on major oil and gas pipeline—the fittings are not as strong as once thought, though it is likely they would be able to withstand storms, earthquakes and floods.

The NEB’s recent report indicates that the faulty, heat-treated pipeline fittings have not been the sources of any reported incidents in the past several years. To help correct the issue, the NEB has issued regulatory instruments, started a project on quality assurance of pipeline fittings, hosted a technical workshop and commissioned a third-party technical paper.

The investigation ultimately concluded that issues stemmed from changes in the manufacturing process; companies started using high-strength fittings roughly a decade ago. Due to these changes, the fittings being produced were weaker than what was required. Engineers indicated specific problems with inappropriate water temperatures and uneven heating, among other issues.

Some fittings used in Canada have been strengthened, but the majority will be left as-is. Fittings already set in the ground can be treated with “enhanced inspection,” Ian Colquhoun, chief engineer for the NEB, told the CBC. This kind of inspection often utilizes sensor devices to read the health of the steel.

Colquhoun told CBC News that steel is a “forgiving substance.” There is a certain level of conservatism factored into the design for the fittings, and this includes a considerable margin of error.

Moving forward, companies will be required to keep records on what companies provided their fittings, and audit what manufacturers they choose.


Tagged categories: Government; Pipeline; Quality control; Steel

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