Challenges Of Overlapping Construction On 3 Major Pipeline Projects

May 2010 Vol. 65 No. 5
Michels’ construction spread on the Keystone Pipeline project.

In 2009, Michels Pipeline Construction, a division of Brownsville, WI-based Michels Corp., was involved in construction of portions of three major North American pipeline projects: TransCanada’s 2,148-mile Keystone Pipeline, Kinder Morgan’s 1,679-mile Rockies Express Pipeline and Enbridge Energy’s 1,000-mile Alberta Clipper Pipeline.

“With all of these projects overlapping each other, one of our biggest challenges was the coordination of crews and equipment,” said Michels Pipeline Construction Vice President Bob Osborn. “That said, it was a banner year and I’m proud of the job we did.”

Beginning in May with the Rockies Express Pipeline, Michels then started work on the Keystone Pipeline, in June, before beginning work on the Alberta Clipper in August.

Crews wrapped up work on the Alberta Clipper recently, marking the finish of just over eight months in which the company completed more than 328 miles of work on three of the largest pipeline construction projects in North America.

Rockies Express
Kinder Morgan’s REX Pipeline was the first work Michels did on any of the projects, beginning construction on May 4, 2009.

Nicknamed “King of Pipelines” by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Rockies Express Pipeline spans 1,679 miles and transports natural gas from Colorado to Ohio. A $6.6 billion project, REX will carry roughly 1.8 Bcf/d of natural gas.

REX, which is a joint venture between Kinder Morgan, Sempra Pipeline and ConocoPhillips, consists of three portions — REX-Entrega, REX-West and REX-East. Michels worked on the 639-mile REX-East.

Taken as a whole, the scope of the project was enormous. REX required 1.4 million tons of steel, and there were 110,814 sections of welded 42-inch pipe. Kinder Morgan negotiated with more than 6,500 landowners for rights of way, and there were nearly 20,000 employees working on REX at the peak of construction.

The Michels-specific portion of the project was Spread H, which called for 52 miles of 42-inch natural gas pipeline and was located near Circleville, OH where Michels located its warehouse. At the height of construction, Michels employed 828 people on the job, which local officials said was a boon to the economy. Officials from Pickaway County, which Circleville is located in, estimated the county’s economic benefit to be close to $10 million. Superintendents Tony Tristani, Joey Wade and Freddie McKenzie completed work on Nov. 24, 2009.