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Hydrocarbons, such as oil and natural gas, need to be transported between their supply and their demand. Roads, railways, and sea can all be used, but the safest and most efficient mode of transportation is usually a pipeline.

Transporting oil and gas by pipeline is a safe process, but this safety is a long term commitment: these transmission pipelines can cross continents, go under lakes, and go over mountains, and must operate for many decades, continually delivering their products safely and securely.

Competence and Qualified

‘Competence’ is a mix of: skills (ability to do a task); knowledge (ability to understand and explain the task); and, experience (period of time doing the task). 

‘Qualified’ in a competence means an individual has been formally assessed in that competence; for example, by a classroom examination.

It is estimated that there are over 3.5 million kilometres of these large diameter, high pressure pipelines in the world. Many are over 50 years old. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) in the USA states: ‘Over 50% of the nation's pipelines were constructed in the 1950's and 1960's... Some pipelines were built even earlier... Over 12% of the nation’s cross-country gas transmission and hazardous liquid pipelines were built prior to the 1950's’.

This huge ageing asset presents the pipeline industry with a similarly huge challenge, and this is why the industry needs competent and qualified personnel. These workers perform many varied tasks, with many of these tasks being safety-critical. Personnel competence is essential: pipeline standards and regulations require all people working on pipelines to be both competent and qualified.  The standards and regulations require competency and qualifications, but do not specify what competency or qualifications, nor their level, nor the assessment requirements for professional personnel.


The Qualification Panel for the Pipeline Industry is an independent, advisory panel of experts in the pipeline industry, who can help companies and individuals show that their personnel are competent and qualified to work on a pipeline.  The Panel specifies required competencies, and sets competency standards (competency standards provide a common definition of a competency, with its minimum requirements) for pipeline engineers. The Panel can advise on how engineers can gain and maintain these standards, and can help with the certification of these engineers.

The Panel can help engineers become certified in a competency, or multiple competencies, either by:

  • Selecting one (or more) of eight listed competencies (with written competency standards available, and assessments available - see box opposite), and passing an assessment. These competencies, and the assessment, can be certified by an independent certification body, and this certification is to the international standard, ISO 17024. 

  • Selecting all eight competencies, and passing each assessment. This then allows you to apply to be a Certified Pipeline Integrity Engineer.

  • Specifying any competency, and relating it to a relevant competency standard, and then following all the Panel’s processes and procedures. On passing an agreed assessment, the Panel will state that all its (the Panel’s) procedures have been followed, and this can then be put forward to an certification body for certification.

Assessment and Certification

‘Assessment’ is the process of collecting evidence, and making judgements on whether competence has been achieved.

‘Certification’ is a process to show an individual is qualified in terms of particular knowledge or skills. ISO defines ‘certification’ as: ‘the provision by an independent body of written assurance (a certificate) that the product, service or system in question meets specific requirements’.

Competencies now available for Certification

  • Pipeline Engineering Principles

  • Pipeline Inspection and Surveillance

  • Pipeline Integrity Management

  • Pipeline Defect Assessment

  • In-Line Inspection Technologies & Procedures

  • ILI Data Analysis & Reporting

  • Stress Analysis

  • Fracture Mechanics


The certification:

  • Is tangible evidence of compliance with industry standards and regulations;

  • Inspires confidence in workers, managers, customers, the general public, and regulators;

  • Helps personnel with career development;

  • Helps with recruitment (replacing interviews based on CV-evidence with competency-based evidence);

  • Can be used in an organization’s personnel appraisal process; and,

  • Can be used as a quantitative basis for training requirements.

             if you want to be certified in one of the eight listed competencies or to learn more about our Certified Pipeline Integrity Engineer program.

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