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API RP 1169 - Pipeline Construction Inspection

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API RP 1169, Pipeline Construction Inspection, is an industry recommended practice developed and published by the American Petroleum Institute (API). This document was originally published in July of 2013, with the latest 2nd Edition being released in March of 2020. This recommended practice (RP) focuses on the basic requirements needed to inspect new onshore pipelines in a safe and reliable manner.

The document outlines the requirements of pipeline inspection into four sections:

  1. Inspector Responsibilities: According to the standard, inspector responsibilities include planning, monitoring, evaluating, verifying, making informed decisions, problem solving (e.g. root cause analysis), documenting and reporting, and communicating effectively with the pipeline construction team to ensure project is moving forward in a safe and efficient manner.
  2. Personnel and General Pipeline Safety: This section describes many of the basic construction safety requirements outlined by OSHA 29 CFR 1910 - Process Safety Management and 29 CFR 1926 - Safety and Health Regulations for Construction.
  3. Environmental and Pollution Control: Inspectors are also required to comply with environmental and pollution control regulations. This includes acquiring appropriate local, state, and/or federal permits before construction, if necessary. The importance of environmental and pollution control is to enhance the quality of water, land, and air. Therefore, it’s important that pipeline inspectors have a basic understanding of agricultural impacts, air and water quality, water supply, water management, emissions, soil erosion, and waste management.
  4. General Pipeline Construction: Inspectors are required to be knowledgeable about the differences between compliance and requirements in terms of general pipeline and construction projects. Again, it’s the inspector's responsibility to document and report observations throughout all stages of the project.1

API 1169 Inspector Certification

The motivation for developing API RP 1169 was to provide the oil and gas industry with a program to identify qualified pipeline inspectors. Inspectors with a thorough understanding of the recommended practice help to promote industry safety and environmentally-safe practices. The API 1169 - Pipeline Construction Inspector Certification program is offered through API’s Individual Certification Program (ICP).

New and existing upstream oil and gas production has created a recent boom in pipeline construction projects. Therefore, a certification program was created in 2014 to meet the growing demand for competent and experienced pipeline construction inspectors. Qualifications are based on a combination of years of experience and education. In order to maintain certification, pipeline inspectors must apply for recertification every 3 years.

Qualification

In order to take the exam, applicants must meet minimum education and experience requirements. For API 1169, experience relating to inspection and non-inspection activities are considered. Additionally, API considers whether those experiences were performed in the oil and gas industry or other related industries such as civil construction, mining, heavy equipment operating, etc.

Applicants with Pipeline Inspection Experience

Applicants with no formal education must acquire at least 3 years of pipeline inspection experience before applying to take the exam. Applicants with a 2 year degree or 2 years of military service in a technical role may apply after acquiring 2 years of pipeline inspection experience. Pipeline inspection activities typically include utility inspection, pressure and leak testing, welding inspection, coating inspection, and safety inspection.

Applicants with General Oil & Gas Inspection Experience

For applicants with general oil and gas inspection experience, a person must have 4 years of industry experience if he/she has a high school diploma or equivalent. Personnel with a 2 year degree or higher and 3 years of industry experience may also take the exam. General inspection experience includes equipment, in-service, visual, welding, tank and source inspection. Experience in nondestructive examination (NDE) and pressure/leak testing also qualifies under this category.

Applicants with Non-Inspection Pipeline Experience

For applications with non-inspection pipeline experience and a high school diploma or equivalent, a minimum of 5 years of industry service is required to take the exam. Personnel with a 2 year degree or more must have at least 4 years of experience. Non-inspection roles and responsibilities that qualify under this category include: pipeline construction, surveying and operation, welding, fitting, coating, heavy equipment operation, and supervising pipeline safety.

Applicants with General Oil & Gas Industry Experience

An applicant with a minimum or 4 years of general oil and gas experience acquired at any petrochemical refinery or plant (with at least 1 year of pipeline experience) and any certification from AWS, CWB, NACE (Level II or higher), API, ASNT (Level II or higher) may take the exam. If applicant has no pipeline specific experience, a minimum of 6 years of general oil and gas experience is required plus any certification previously listed.

Applicants with Experience in Other Heavy Industries

An applicant with a 2 year degree or higher with experience outside the oil and gas industry must acquire a minimum or 5 years of heavy industry experience. If an application does not have secondary education, he/she must have 8 years of heavy industry experience and any certification from AWS, CWB, NACE (Level II or higher), API, or ASNT (Level II or higher). Industries include, but are not limited to, road and civil construction, mining, logging, blasting, and heavy equipment operation.

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