The boards of directors of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, the INGAA Foundation Inc., the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association and the CEPA Foundation – major pipeline trade associations in the U.S. and Canada, respectively – have voted to endorse a program to ensure all pipeline inspectors doing work for their member companies are certified by 2018.

“The decision is consistent with the INGAA board’s commitment to zero pipeline incidents,” said INGAA President and Chief Executive Officer Don Santa. “Safe pipeline construction and quality materials help ensure safe operation. Having certified inspectors helps everyone raise the bar.”

“Our industry is committed to ensuring continuous improvement processes are developed to enhance the operational reliability of pipelines,” said CEPA Foundation Chairman Kent Wilfur. “By standardizing the baseline certification of inspectors across the industry, the industry can enhance the quality of new construction. This significant change in approach also establishes that pipeline inspection is a genuine career choice. We hope this action will encourage new entrants in the pipeline construction field to pursue inspection as a career opportunity.” Wilfur is also vice president of project execution for Spectra Energy.

An inspector certification test—American Petroleum Institute (API) RP 1169, Recommended Practice for Basic Inspection Requirements for New Pipeline Construction—has been available in the U.S. since November 2014. The test, which provides an industrywide credential for inspection of onshore pipelines, will meet industry requirements in Canada in the spring of 2016. The INGAA and CEPA Foundations established a “body of knowledge” about pipeline inspections to help improve the test and enhance inspector knowledge.

All pipeline inspectors are eligible to take the test, regardless of training, education or other certifications. Pipeline inspectors can choose to take additional tests to become a specialty inspector for areas such as pipeline welding or pipeline coating.

The INGAA and CEPA Foundations intend to continuously improve the inspector certification program, including by working with API to develop future versions of the API 1169 certification test.