PE Tapping & Plugging

The Hot Tapping & Plugging method is also applicable to polyethylene (PE) gas distribution networks. It is being used for the connection of new branches to the existing mains or the isolation of pipeline sections for repairs, replacement or re-routing, while the rest of the network remains in operation.

The advantage of the PE Tapping & Plugging method, besides of the uninterrupted supply to the consumers, is that it constitutes an alternative solution to the Squeezing method. The application of Squeezing in large diameters is practically difficult but also tests have proven that folding a PE pipeline during Squeezing, is resulting in serious damage of the internal and external surface of the pipe wall. Moreover, the weakening of the pipe wall is permanent, even if the pipe reforms almost to the initial shape after the completion of Squeezing. The weakening is more intense at the squeezing point, but also extends linearly for approximately ten meters at both directions. Fatigue tests indicate that especially in pipeline diameters larger than 110mm, the possibility of cracking defects appearing is high. These studies have led the larger European Gas Distributors to prohibit the use of Squeezing method for scheduled works (i.e. network expansions). Squeezing is only allowed for emergency interventions, and even in that case, the Gas Distributors are replacing the squeezed pipeline afterwards, with the use of PE Tapping & Plugging.

Since the necessary PE Tapping & Plugging fittings are of standard design and in stock, the operation can be performed in a much shorter time schedule compared to steel pipeline operations, making the method ideal for small interventions as those in distribution networks. 

The same method can also be applied to water utilities PE networks, in order to avoid flow interruptions and water contamination that would occur with conventional interventions.

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