Battling The Elements Year-Round

May 2009 Vol. 64 No. 5

When Neal Jinkerson and Nick Walters began working for the pipeline construction division of Henkels & McCoy Inc. many years ago, there was a distinct time frame for what constituted the construction season.

But in recent years, as equipment has evolved, the construction season has become year-round.

“The longer I’ve been in the business, there’s really no construction season anymore,” says Jinkerson, area manager of western pipeline operations for Henkels & McCoy. He recently oversaw crews that worked from September to September to install 155 miles of crude oil pipeline in Minnesota.

Being in business since 1923 means that Henkels & McCoy has been asked to complete all types of projects. With 6,000 employees in more than 80 offices located from New England to Hawaii, the company is one of the largest privately held engineering, network development and construction firms serving the communications, information technology and utility industries.

When the company was commissioned to install a 24 inch crude oil pipeline in Minnesota during the dead of winter with wind chills dipping below minus 50, its employees dusted the snow off their boots and rose to the task.

Improving oil flow

To service the state of Minnesota with additional crude oil, Minnesota Pipe Line Co. set out to construct 304 miles of pipeline that would transport the natural resource from the Canadian oil sands in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, to the Flint Hills Resources’ Pine Bend Refinery in Rosemount, MN, about 17 miles south of Minneapolis. The refinery is among the top processors of heavy crude in the United States and a leader in providing cleaner burning and high performance fuels. The refinery, which is operated by Koch Industries Inc., processes the crude oil into petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel, propane and butane. Petroleum products produced at the refinery are mainly used in the Upper Midwest. It also manufactures asphalt, heating fuels, and sulfur for fertilizers in addition to supplying much of the jet fuel used at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport.

Of the 304 miles of new pipeline, Henkels & McCoy crews were to build 155 miles, installing the 24 inch pipe with about four feet of cover. Starting in September, it took the crews a year and one month to tie in the product and complete the project.