Inspectioneering Journal

Common Joint Integrity Challenges on CAPEX Projects

By Neil Ferguson, Joint Integrity Leader at Hydratight. This article appears in the May/June 2016 issue of Inspectioneering Journal.


Large scale capital projects present a myriad of challenges for owner-users in the oil and gas and petrochemical industries. Budgets are constantly being stretched and project deadlines are often exceeded. One area that deserves attention from all parties involved is joint integrity management.  While I am not going to analyze all potential issues associated with this subject in this short article, I would like to highlight 4 common causes of joint integrity problems to hopefully help the reader avoid them during their next capital project.

1. Offsite Modular Construction

Due to high labor costs associated with CAPEX projects, modules are often manufactured offsite such that only the hook-up and commissioning needs to happen onsite. In rare cases, fabricators will employ competent flange management teams to advise onsite technicians on proper assembly, tightening, torqueing, and testing.  When done correctly, this has proven very effective for eliminating future leaks.

In reality, many fabrication companies do not take this additional, but important step, and as a result, owner-users often find themselves constantly chasing leaks due to inadequate joint construction and verification. When it comes to joint integrity, fabricators are often not properly trained, do not know joint integrity best practices, and do not keep up with relevant codes and standards.  Unfortunately, budget constraints frequently prevent the inclusion of joint integrity specialists in this phase of the project, resulting in hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of re-work when modules arrive in their final destinations or fail tests in the construction yard.

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