HDD Solves Crude Line Replacement Across St. Clair River

By Bob Wothe, Michels Corporation | November 2011, Vol. 66 No. 11

Despite battling challenging winter weather conditions, the drill began on an Enbridge easement owned by the city of Marysville. A temporary sound mitigation structure was erected to deflect noise away from area residents adjacent to the site as the drill got under way in the third week of February. Pipe string assembly and pretesting took place concurrently on the Canadian side on Shell Canada-owned property. The pipe string-out area was adjacent to the existing Line 6B easement, and had a snake-like product pipe string-out while elevated over and across the 75-foot-wide Talfourd Creek on the front end of the pullback near the exit hole.

Impressive pullback
One of the chief challenges throughout the drill process was implementing several guidance technologies while simultaneously maintaining the critical drill alignment and safe working conditions as well as avoiding environmental impacts. Michels’ state-of-the-art intersect technology came through in the drilling of the pilot hole, with all indications pointing to the intersect taking place on the U.S. side of the border.

With freezing rain falling, pullback operations began on March 9. Pullback was particularly challenging due to the aggressive bend required to get the pipe lined up with the hole. All told, the pullback required five large cranes and two side-booms, which took most of the day and was one of the more visually impressive pullbacks completed by Michels across an international border.

Once pullback was complete, it took roughly a month to set foundations and place new valves and control buildings. Michels installed a new mainline block valve and valve control buildings on both sides of the river. The new pipeline was pressure-tested with water, and the old pipeline under the river was then swabbed, purged with nitrogen, and deactivated.

Through it all, Michels completed this impressive project without any safety or environmental concerns despite being under the constant microscope of regulators.

It is a rare occurrence when a U.S.-based company can perform an international project by staying in the U.S., but Michels’ experience and resources made a potentially painstaking project nothing more than yet another drill that went off without a hitch.

Michels Corporation, (920) 924-4300, www.michels.us

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