The majority of existing and new pipelines are externally coated. The opportunity to examine buried pipelines has shown that selection of both shop and over-the-ditch field applied coatings has resulted in many failures.

Coating selection in 1996 has become more complex because of the abundance of available products. Not only are there many available coating types but there are also competitive products within each category. The safe approach is to select a coating that will perform well under the most severe conditions but this approach can be very costly and often a lesser coating is selected with the realization that it affects the risk of failure.

This paper addresses the criteria that need to be considered during coating selection and provides an outline for the decision making process. Examples are used to illustrate the effect of different factors on coating performance.

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