Onshore Pipeline Integrity Management - Operational Guidance for Inspectors


This operational guidance is for inspectors carrying out onshore pipeline integrity management inspections.  It describes four core inspection topics and sets out success criteria against these.  It provides a consistent framework for judging compliance, assigning performance ratings and determining follow up actions.  Relevant legislation, technical standards and other information sources are referenced.  There is separate operational guidance for offshore pipeline integrity management.


The principal risk associated with inadequate management of onshore pipeline integrity is pipeline failure, leading to loss of containment of a flammable substance and the risk of a major fire and/or explosion.  Such an event has the potential to be catastrophic, causing widespread damage and multiple fatalities.  A strategic objective for Energy Division - Gas & Pipelines (ED5) is to ensure that operators properly manage the integrity of their onshore transmission pipelines and associated equipment.

Targeted inspections based on this operational guidance will support ED5's strategic objective by:

  • systematically evaluating the adequacy of pipeline operators' arrangements for pipeline integrity management against a consistent set of criteria; and
  • ensuring that appropriate enforcement action is taken in cases where legal minimum standards are not met.


During onshore pipeline integrity management inspections, inspectors should:

  • compare standards of performance for the four core topics (Appendix 1) against the relevant success criteria (Appendix 2);
  • use performance descriptors (Appendix 3) to determine the appropriate performance rating and EMM initial enforcement expectation;

consider how and when any issues raised during the inspection are to be closed out, making use of the COIN issues tab and taking formal enforcement action where appropriate.


Pipelines can be subject to a range of degradation mechanisms (eg corrosion, erosion and embrittlement). This progressive deterioration is known as ageing.  They can also fail through damage mechanisms that are not age-related, eg overpressure or third party interference.  In order to comply with their legal duties, pipeline operators need to identify, assess and properly control significant potential threats to their pipelines.  They should also make appropriate use of technical advances (eg in defect assessment and repair methods) to ensure that the risk of pipeline failure continues to be as low as reasonably practicable (ALARP). Additionally, operators of major accident hazard pipelines (MAHPs) should have in place emergency procedures to mitigate the consequences of a pipeline release.

Appendix 4 gives further information about relevant legislation, and Appendix 5 provides references to technical standards and other useful resources.



Pipeline integrity management is a strategic priority topic and inspections should be included in the intervention plans (IPs) for onshore pipeline operators.  Where other topics have been identified as local priorities, inspectors should take this into consideration when preparing their IPs.  ED5's risk ranking arrangements should be used to assist inspectors when determining intervention frequencies and targeting.

Rating and recording

Appendix 1 describes the four core topics and Appendix 2 describes the associated success criteria that inspectors should consider during inspections of onshore pipeline integrity management.  Not all of the success criteria will apply in every case and inspectors should only consider those that are relevant at each inspection.  If any success criteria are not met, inspectors should assess how serious the consequences could be.  This will determine the performance ratings that they should assign and the enforcement action to be taken, if any.

Performance ratings should be entered on the Inspection Rating Form (IRF) tab of the relevant PSR Intervention Plan Service Order.  Separate ratings should be entered for each of the four core topics against descriptors on the IRF tab as follows:

Core topic Description of topic on IRF rating tab
Pipeline design compliance and the identification and assessment of integrity management arrangements Pipeline Design Compliance
Pipeline safety management system (SMS) Pipeline SMS
Implementation of the pipeline integrity management process Pipeline Integrity Management
Emergency planning and preparedness Emergency Response


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Updated 2020-12-15