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How to do a Tie-In

The question:
What methods and techniques are used to break into pipelines? I know that the easiest way
would be to a blind flanged tie-in point or if a line is to be modified post a flange/valve then
it is easiest to make a new spool between two flanges. My question relates to when you
have to put a new tie-in into a pipeline and the above isn't viable, i.e. there is no option but
to break into the line. I told one option on a gravity drain line for example would be to cut
the line then put a bung into the pipe to stop drains backing up, make up the new spool
then weld them back together. With piping I am aware it isn't always as simple as this as
sometimes welding isn't an option either. I know you could also use an o'let for branching.
My answer:
To start, let's correct the terminology. The term you used "to break into (a) pipeline" is
called a "Tie-In" by more than 95% of the piping profession. The balance of the people use
"Tie-Point" or some other term. Regardless of which of these terms you use they mean the
There are two basic conditions that exist when doing a "Tie-In." The first condition is when a
Tie-In must be made and the line can be shutdown and made safe for welding or other
work. This is called a "Cold" tie-in. The second condition is when a Tie-In must be made and
the line cannot be shutdown. This is called a "Hot-Tap" tie-in.
Some Hot-Tap tie-ins also require a procedure called "Stopple". This is where a second Hot-
Tap is made downstream of the first one. The flow is routed through the first tie-in while an
articulated plug is inserted into the second Hot-Tap to blank off the flow. Various kinds of
work can then be done to the remaining pipe.
The "Cold" tie-in is simple to design and install. With only a few exceptions you can handle
them the same as you would for any new piping. The exceptions include:
Make a proper survey of the condition of the existing pipe material. Is it too corroded to
join the new pipe to?
The existing line can be shut down but can the environment around the existing pipe be
made safe for any required welding?
The "Hot-Tap" tie-in is more complicated. There are many, many questions and issues that
need to be resolved. These include:
Will the tie-in be a plain tie-in or a more complex "Stopple" tie-in?
Will this be a single tie-in point or a multiple tie-in point?
Will the tie-in be made with a "split-Tee" branch or an "O-Let" branch?
Is there proper space available for the piping fittings and the valve?
Is there proper space for the Hot-Tap machine and the Hot-Tap operators?
What is the commodity? Is this commodity safe for doing a Hot-Tap?
What is the operating pressure? Can the Hot-Tap machinery handle this pressure safely?
What is the operating temperature? Can the Hot-Tap machinery handle this temperature
Can flow be maintained (required for cooling) during the cutting part of the Hot-Tap
What is downstream (direction of flow) of the Hot-Tap that might be damaged by the
cuttings from the Hot-Tap process?
Has there been proper consultation with one or more "Hot-Tap" Specialty Contractors?
Issues for all tie-ins:
Has Process Engineering reviewed and approved the location and type of tie-in?
Has Plant Operations reviewed and approved the location and type of tie-in?
Has the Installation Constructor reviewed and approved the location and type of tie-in?
Has the tie-in location been tagged for easy and proper identification?
Have the proper drawings been prepared and checked?
Has the proper material been ordered?