In the 2014 edition of the ASME B31.3 Code [1], thick, P-No. 1 carbon steel pipe became exempt from Postweld Heat Treatment (PWHT) under the condition of preheating at 95°C (200°F) and multi-pass welding. The decision whether to apply PWHT or not is left to the designer but no further guideline is provided. The impression is that the need for PWHT is only corrosion/service related, and not beneficial or necessary for the integrity of the piping. Several publications [2][3][4] have addressed these changes and highlighted that this might lead to potentially unsafe situations.

This paper will critically review the arguments used for the justification of the PWHT exemption for carbon steel and show that many arguments are invalid or incomplete. It will discuss the implications for the performance of materials and predict possible failure scenarios. It will then provide estimates of typical PWHT cost eliminated by the current rules. It will provide an EPC contractor’s perspective on the current ASME B31 rules with practical approaches that may be taken to mitigate the risks. Finally, recommendations to the ASME B31 committees involved in PWHT exemption will be provided.

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