As the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the natural gas industry move toward enforcement of thorough record keeping, the importance of a professional engineer (PE) seal on all drawings is highlighted and a sealed drawing is becoming the expectation. As of 2022, over half of the 50 states in the United States still allow for natural gas infrastructure projects to be exempt from requiring PE approval and stamping. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is now recommending that all states require licensed PE approval and stamping before projects go into construction.

Sealing engineering drawings is already a standard practice for many engineering firms, even before this recent industry push. A sealed drawing confirms a qualified individual, as designated by the state where the project is located, has reviewed and signed off on the drawing. Often, newer engineers will be tasked with most of the detailed design tasks, so the process of a PE stamp of approval fosters mentorship on projects and provides for a stronger team. A PE will meet with a less experienced engineer in training to review design corrections, drawing changes and industry best practices, which will promote continuous professional improvement through collaboration and discussion.

The PE sealing signifies not only a commitment to quality but also confirms to agencies, permitting entities, and local, state and federal governments that a thorough quality process was followed. In particular, railroads, environmental agencies and departments of transportation frequently require a stamp of approval from a PE before allowing project construction.

A sealed drawing signifies that a PE has checked for constructability, cross-discipline coordination and possible design conflicts. It also verifies that all calculations are complete, correct and filed for project closeout. This proactive approach means that project stakeholders understand that the licensed PE is responsible for following industry best practices and has checked the project against current and new regulations.

Having a drawing sealed by a licensed PE reiterates the importance of quality as the final piece of a comprehensive quality process. This is crucial for providing clients support and keeping a project on schedule. Lacking a PE seal on a drawing can cause project delays, ultimately costing clients time and money. By bringing in a PE to oversee the design process and approve project drawings, the team takes a proactive approach to have responsibility over the entire project.


Navigating compliance and constructing a project that hits the target can be tricky. Discover the benefits of having an experienced team on your side for your natural gas pipeline needs.

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Madeleine Turk, PE, is an assistant department manager in the pipelines section at Burns & McDonnell, working out of the firm’s Chicago office. She has extensive experience helping pipeline clients implement successful project solutions.