December 2019, Vol. 246, No. 12

Plastic Pipe Report

A Chat with PPI’s Energy Piping Chief


Randy Knapp, is the director of engineering at the Energy Piping Systems Division of The Plastics Pipe Institute, Inc. (PPI), which is the major North American trade association representing all segments of the plastic pipe industry. 

In this conversation, he discusses educating the industry about plastic pipes, the need for more skilled labor in the sector and what PPI sees as the its top priorities in the coming year. 

P&GJ: What are your top priorities as director of the Energy Piping Systems Division (EPSD) of the Plastics Pipe Institute for the coming year?  

Knapp: In a word – education. PPI has identified education as one of our top strategic priorities. The best way to connect the thousands of users of HDPE piping with the technical content that PPI produces is through educational efforts. 

P&GJ: How is demand for plastic pipe in the oil and gas industry compared to five years ago?  

Knapp: PPI statistics show that five years ago (2014) was a boom year. Although the market took a downturn in 2015-16, it rebounded very nicely, with 2018 being the best year on record for plastic shipment for oil and gas production. 

P&GJ: What do members view as their biggest challenges over the next couple of years?  

Knapp: Loss of talent and pending regulations (federal and state level). Both of which could hinder industry growth. 

P&GJ: Is EPSD membership in PPI growing?  

Knapp: Yes. Every year we are gaining new members that see the benefits offered by PPI. 

P&GJ: What geographic regions have shown the most growth?  

Knapp: Companies all across U.S. and more recently Mexico. 

P&GJ: What do EPSD members see as their biggest concerns going forward?  

Knapp: Market fluctuations, regulations, and developing skilled labor. 

P&GJ: How is EPSD helping to address need for skilled plastic pipe workings in the years ahead? 

Knapp: Education is a key pillar of our strategy. We intend to take the wealth of knowledge embodied in our member organizations and get it in front of the industry through a variety of mediums. 

P&GJ: Are there any soon-to-go-into-effect or pending regulatory actions that concern the industry?  

Knapp: Yes, the regulation of gas gathering in Class 1 locations (currently unregulated) by PHMSA that could help ensure the continued safe use of polyethylene (PE) in oil and gas, if enacted properly. Also, state regulations that limit the approval and use of pipelines may continue may accidentally promote the use of methods, such as trucking, and that negatively affect safety and the environment.  

P&GJ: Is EPSD’s leadership looking to institute any changes going in the near term?  

Knapp: Development of an Industry Oil & Gas Advisory Board that will be part of the PPI Energy Piping Systems Division.



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