Understanding the Importance of Natural Gas Pipe Fabrication - Samco

Understanding the Importance of Natural Gas Pipe Fabrication

More than 3 million miles of natural gas pipelines and distribution mains in the United States alone. However, this holds no water if the materials used for pipe fabrication and compression stations are unreliable.

This article discusses the primary role of natural gas pipe fabrication and why it is important to understand how it works. Let’s start with the basics and work it up.

What is Pipe Fabrication?

Pipe fabrication is the construction of several straight lengths of piping components and metallic pipe. This usually includes:

  • Forged flanged
  • Tee and reducer fittings
  • Forged or wrought elbows
  • The pipe itself

This results in manufacturing complex or simple piping systems that safely transport natural gas, process liquids, and even solids.

Pipe fabrication calls for an incredibly high level of precision, especially among the hundreds of equally challenging assembly as well as installation processes. Therefore, it required extensive planning, scheduling, and careful execution according to the design, timing, location, as well as budget requirements.

Where Pipe Fabrication Takes Place

A few projects can only be executed as an on-field construction solution. This depends significantly on effectiveness and efficiency, including suitability. The scope and size of the project determine if pipe fabrication will occur on-site or in the shop.

However, this decision is equally – and heavily – influenced by the following factors:

  • Pipe dimensions and material
  • Safety and accessibility
  • The weather
  • Required welding resources and facilities
  • Availability of expert on-site support personnel
  • Quality control and environmental requirements
  • Collaboration and scheduling with other vital trades

It also depends on whether the project is for existing or new piping systems.

Pipe fabrication can occur in a field near the pipe installation job site. However, it can also be carried out in purpose-built workshops that protect the work and skilled workers from the elements while making efficient equipment and machinery readily available.

Equipment and Tools Used for Pipe Fabrication

Pipe fabricators and expert welders use a wide variety of specialized tools and equipment to complete jobs efficiently and safely. These tools and equipment require weather protection, appropriate space, complete quality control capabilities, as well as reliable security.

It is common for more than a few pipe fabrication projects to occur in the field. Projects within logistical limitations can also be completed on-site.

Nevertheless, irrespective of where pipe fabrication takes place, the following tools or equipment help pipe fabricators to design and create complex precision piping systems:

  • Pipe Fit-Up tools
  • C Clamps/Chain Clamps
  • Pipe Jacks
  • Beveling and Pipe Cutting Equipment
  • Pins and Flange Alignment Tools
  • Pipe Purging Equipment
  • Center Punch
  • Welding Machines
  • Pipe Rigging/Transport Equipment
  • Pipe Threader
  • Contour/Compass Marker
  • Adjustable Pipe Rollers

That is not all. These tools also come in handy during pipe fabrication:

  • Grinder
  • Fork Lift
  • Wraparound Tapes
  • Pipe Bending Machine
  • Rotating Equipment
  • Saws and Thermal Cutting Tool
  • Tower Crane/Hydraulic Crane, etc.

What Does the Pipe Fabrication Process Looks Like?

Pipe fabrication is a highly detailed and extensive process. However, here’s a quick rundown of what the pipe fabrication process looks like:

  • Marking

All pipe materials are carefully marked and verified. This is done according to the Pipe Fabrication Specification.

  • Tagging

Every pipe material is tagged using paint or a stamp. This ensures pipe heat numbers are displayed on all sections before cutting.

  • Cutting

The type of steel or metal used in pipe fabrication determines the pipe-cutting methods to be deployed. Cutting methods include grinding, gas torch, saws, and plasma cutting.

  • End Preparation

Fit-ups and beveling are completed after the specification has been approved.

  • Welding

Pipe welding planning occurs, which ensures the acute positioning and alignment of every seam in the final assembly.

  • Pipe and Fitting Welding

Pipes and fittings are secured and supported for proper fit-up examination or inspection. If passed successfully, the joints are carefully welded.

  • Details Marking

Several identifying details of the piping system, inspection signature, and details, as well as the welding date, is duly marked near the joints. In addition, an aluminum tag and paint marker mark the pipe spool number.

  • Heat Treatment

PWHT and preheating may be deployed and completed. But this depends significantly on project requirements.

  • Inspection

Non-destructive testing ensures every step of the fabrication process is completed, meets, or exceeds project regulations and requirements.

Piping that passes inspection is released for construction or painting, while those that fail the inspection test are repaired and re-inspected. Piping scheduled for painting undergoes another round of inspection before being released for construction.

Are Transmission Pipelines Protected?

Transmission pipelines have wrappings or coatings that protect them from the following:

  • Corrosion
  • Water
  • Leaks
  • Soil

This is why many pipes are manufactured using materials resistant to corrosion. These materials include acrylic, PVC (polyvinyl chloride), and plastics. In addition, most transmission pipelines also undergo cathodic protection.

But a popular material used extensively in pipe fabrication is carbon steel. This extremely popular steel-grade form is utilized in a wide range of domestic and industrial applications.

This is due to considerable advancements in technology that help minimize issues such as corrosion, etc., that tend to degrade the quality of pipelines over time. Mild steel or carbon steel is commonly utilized in this industry and has a carbon content ranging from 0.04 percent to 0.3 percent.

When given adequate and regular care/maintenance processes, many pipelines will function effectively and efficiently for several years without cracking or rusting.

The Utmost Importance of Natural Gas Pipe Fabrication

Natural gas pipe fabrication plays a crucial aspect in society’s infrastructure. It ensures the institutional, industrial, and commercial facilities the society relies heavily on and works in. They are all mechanically precise or correct, safely designed, and tested thoroughly for the service the entire piping system is designed for.


Understanding the importance of natural gas pipe fabrication should not be overestimated. Every fabricated pipe is designed to withstand heat and pressure while enjoying protection from corrosion, water, soil, and leaks.

Natural gas pipe fabrication also involves fabricating pipelines that pose zero environmental risk. This is why the materials used in fabricating pipelines must be hazard-free but capable of functioning efficiently and effectively for many years.