Pipeline Design & Approval
All aspects of a pipeline’s design must follow stringent federal regulations, including pipe material and grade, pipe strength and wall thickness.
Prior to construction, pipeline operators must notify regulators of their plan and obtain all required permits and approvals to build new or expand existing pipelines.
Before the line pipe can be buried, the pipeline right-of-way must be cleared and prepared for construction. Once ready, the pipeline is carefully placed in a pre-dug trench or bored under waterways or roads. Operators work hand-in-hand with communities to minimize disruptions during the construction process.
Welds at the connection of pipe segments along the pipeline must be inspected for quality with x-ray or an ultrasonic scan. Welders and other construction personnel must demonstrate their abilities in field tests for certification before construction. After passing inspection, weld joints receive the same anti-corrosion protective coating as the pipe body received at the pipe mill. Operators further protect the pipe from corrosion by directing an electrical current on buried pipe in a process known as cathodic protection.
An assembled pipeline and its components such as valves, flanges and fittings must undergo pre-operational testing before it can go into service. Operators pump water into the pipeline and hold it at high pressure to demonstrate there are no leaks in the pipe or its weld joints. Requirements for the water testing must comply with federal regulations. Construction issues identified by the testing are repaired before the pipe is operational.
Each stage of this process is overseen by regularly-trained and highly-qualified inspectors who monitor compliance with the engineering plan, codes, permit conditions, landowner and easement agreements, and regulatory requirements.
The post-construction phase of any project addresses several aspects including restoring the surface of the land affected by any trenching.