Pump jack and grangemouth refinery at night.

Preventing Bolted Flange Joint Failure

Bolted flange joints have the potential to leak, but steps can be taken to prevent this at plants and installation sites.


Flange joint failure regularly occurs within the Oil and Gas industry, causing millions of pounds worth of damage, therefore preventing leakages and joint failure is a main priority. In addition to carrying out regular testing procedures, consistent observations and routine maintenance is imperative to preventing failures.

An extreme example of where testing procedures failed was on an offshore platform in the North Sea. A four-bolt hub joint passed the operator’s leak test; however, three years later, an explosion occurred, causing millions of pounds worth of damage.

An investigation took place to find the root cause; the failure was due to corrosion of a carbon steel ring which was between the two stainless steel hubs when a stainless steel ring should have been used.

Carbon Steel vs Stainless Steel

  • Carbon steel can corrode, whereas stainless steel is protected from corrosion.
  • Stainless steel differs from carbon steel due to the amount of chromium present. Stainless steel contains a minimum of 10.5% to 11% chromium amount by mass.
  • There is an in-built chromium oxide layer in stainless steel, which is not present in carbon steel.

Why Bolted Flange Joints Fail

A report was conducted into the causes of oil and gas pipeline failures in Nigeria, which showed there were five main causes of oil pipeline failures:

  • Mechanical failures (42%)
  • 3rd party activity (24%)
  • Corrosion (18%)
  • Operational errors (10%)
  • Natural hazards (6%)

Preventative Measures

Joint Integrity

Bolted flanges which have been installed without following the correct procedures, can have severe consequences if the joint then fails. Ensuring that the proper fitting procedures are followed, and using the right equipment to ensure that all surfaces and connections are undamaged will assist in maintaining leak-free joints.

HTL realise the consequences of leaking bolted connections, especially with numerous pipework on site and even more connections. Therefore, provide a full package of customer first solutions which focus on the critical elements of joint integrity, including flange surface quality, joint alignment, bolt preparation and bolt tightening.

HTL’s Flange Management System is a safe, secure and traceable solutions. With the ability to supply the industry with premium quality products fit for specific purposes which are correctly and accurately designed and calibrated, along with an active control process which is vital to record information, HTL have a complete package of industry-leading solutions.

To get an instant quote or for further information about HTL’s premium quality solutions, contact us today: call +44 (0) 1670 700 000 or email info@htlgroup.com.


Related Articles: