An innovative welding method for fully automatic joining of pipelines has been developed. The proposed welding procedure is a variant of the conventional friction welding process. A rotating intermediate ring is used to generate heat necessary to realise the weld. The working principles of the welding process are described. The weldability of the micro-alloyed high-strength pipeline steel API-5L X65 is experimentally investigated. It was found that the new welding process is suitable for joining this material. When welding with a sufficiently low heat input, a high weld quality is obtained. Under these circumstances the weld strength, ductility and impact toughness are high and fulfil the requirements of the commonly used standard EN 12732 for joining pipes.