PPI Issues Advisory for Substandard Plastic Pipe

The Plastics Pipe Institute Inc. (PPI) issued a warning about substandard high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe that does not comply with the relevant product industry standards.

PPI made the announcement Sept. 4 because the HDPE has been found in the oil and gas gathering operations of the Permian and Delaware basins in Texas and New Mexico, according to the association. These pipelines are not marked in accordance with the relevant product standard requirements, and therefore, may not comply with those product standards. Pipe that is not properly marked or certified provides no assurance of product quality and may not perform as intended for the application. The notice extends to other areas where HDPE pipe is widely used such as potable water, forced main sewers, industrial, and mining applications. PPI is the major North American plastic pipe trade association with many of its member companies producing resins, pipe, fittings, and components.

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“We’re issuing this advisory because we are seeing HDPE pipes that have significant quality issues,” stated Tony Radoszewski, CAE, president of PPI. “In some cases neither the manufacturer nor the origin of the pipe could be identified. A properly marked HDPE pipe includes relevant standards on the pipe’s printline to identify piping materials that meet specific standards, and to help confirm that the pipe is suitable for its intended purpose. But this cannot be relied upon by itself as a printline is no guarantee of the quality of the pipe. There are other end-user validation points such as Certificates of Quality from the manufacturer, on-site inspections of the plant, and an array of short-term physical property and mechanical tests and measurements on produced pipe to verify pipe quality.

“Pipe manufacturers can participate in the quality systems established in the industry to ensure pipe performs as expected. This starts with a TR-4 listing in the Plastics Pipe Institute Hydrostatic Stress Board Program plus unannounced random audits conducted by an applicable certifying body.

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“Acceptance of any pipe that does not comply with these standards could cause unintended consequences that jeopardize the safety of employees, the affected public and the environment,” Radoszewski continued. “We encourage operators to inspect the piping products upon delivery to ensure it meets not only the appropriate product standards but also those within the operator’s specifications. This is especially critical for projects in demanding oil and gas field operations, and is also important for pipe used in other pressure applications such as water, sewer, industrial, and mining applications.”

PPI is the leading trade association representing more than 155 member companies involved in the manufacture and use of plastic pipe in the nation’s infrastructure. PPI and its member companies have participated in the ANSI consensus processes that led to the development of several national standards, including e.g., ASTM D2513, ASTM F2619 and API 15LE. These standards prescribe rigorous materials qualification and testing requirements for HDPE pipe to ensure that plastic piping materials meet the performance requirements of demanding applications in oil and gas field operations. Additionally, these standards require that the relevant standard be referenced on the pipe’s printline, so that users should be able to readily identify piping materials that meet the standard(s) and be assured that the pipe that they purchase is suitable for its intended purpose. The association also recommends that purchasers review the pipe manufacturer’s certification reports along with physical plant inspections or independent third-party validation.

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“There is time, effort and labor needed to, number one, develop the standards and, number two, to produce product that will meet those standards,” Radoszewski stated. “Not all HDPE pipe is created equally. Know what resin is being used in the manufacture of the pipe. Know what company is making the pipe. Know what company is selling the pipe. There is a considerable investment for the resin manufacturer and the pipe manufacturer to produce high-performance products. Unfortunately, due to the quickly rising demand for HDPE pipe we’re seeing an influx of imported and even some domestic products that do not abide by our industry standards. There is a cost for quality because of the steps required from the manufacturing of the plastic resin to the extrusion of the pipe in order to produce a product that meets industry standards and regulations. But the benefits definitely outweigh the extra cost. No one wants a catastrophic pipeline failure caused by substandard pipe.

“PPI and its member companies are ready to assist operators with questions regarding the proper specification and use of HDPE pipe intended for the oil and gas gathering applications. Additionally, PPI’s website is a valuable resource for technical guidance and information on all HDPE pipe.”

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