Used Drill Pipe: What Does the Band Color Mean?

Drill pipes are one of the most essential materials on an oilfield. It's a product that is exposed to harsh conditions like extreme depth and temperature, and subjected to large amounts of force. Drill pipe is made out of hollow, thin-walled steel or aluminum alloy piping which is very durable and can easily be reused if still in good condition.

The physical condition of a drill pipe, new or used, in terms of dimension, surface damage, or corrosion, is measured with a spherometer, which assesses the radius of a curve of a curved surface like a pipe or sphere. Based on this assessment, drill pipe is given a class and marked with a colored band (or two). This system was designed by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and is known as API Spec 5D.

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According to API Spec 5D, drill pipe can fall into one of five classes: New, Premium, Class 2, Class 3, or scrap.

Pipe Band Colors (1)

Each class has a color-coordinated band painted on a pipe. A brand-new pipe will have one white band, whereas a band classified “Premium” will have two white stripes. While new pipe is of course the strongest, Premium-class pipe has become the standard in the drilling industry.

Drill pipes are very carefully evaluated after use. Pipes are checked using a spherometer, which measures the radius of a pipe or sphere. The market for used drill pipe has expanded over the last several years as prices for new pipe have risen. Premium and Class 2 pipe have much of the original strength of a drill pipe, and lots of useful life left in them, at a much lower cost than new pipe. Premium pipes have 80% or more of the original wall thickness remaining. Premium pipe is not only a more economical purchase versus N-class, but in most cases just as efficient.

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