Logistics Is Key During Pre-Design For Linear Pipeline

By Dale M. Smith, P.E. Collinsville Branch Manager, Geotechnology Inc. | November 2010, Vol. 65 No. 11

When faced with a project that is 133 miles long, spans two states and dozens of counties and features a tight schedule, logistics can be a serious foe. Communicating to many design team members and being responsive to the many challenges encountered in the field only complicate the efforts to successfully complete a project on time and on budget. Developing organizational and coordination skills into a serious strength and planning appropriately are paramount to operating efficiently, performing well and providing quality results.

This is just the approach taken when Geotechnology Inc. was chosen to be the geotechnical consultant to support the design and construction of a proposed pipeline.

Geotechnology is a professional corporation offering a comprehensive range of consulting services in applied earth and environmental sciences, including geotechnical and environmental engineering, construction materials testing, geophysics and drilling. Geotechnology, Inc. is headquartered in St. Louis.

Underground product pipelines are a typical means to transport liquids over long distances. They are built between production areas and refineries or tank farms, tank farms and refineries, or from any of these facilities to distribution points. Pipelines are usually constructed with plastic or steel depending on the diameter, which may range from four to 48 inches. In overland areas buried pipelines are constructed in trenches varying from six to 15 feet in depth. At significant crossing locations, such as interstate highways, railroad tracks or rivers, pipelines are installed using horizontal directional drilling (HDD). This proposed project featured 20 and 42-inch diameter steel and plastic pipelines to carry oil from a production facility to a tank farm. Geotechnology developed a geotechnical program for the 133-mile long alignment, which featured more than 500 borings and 14 HDD sites.

Project scope
Geotechnical subsurface exploration involved drilling borings at one to 4-mile spaced intervals along overland areas and drilling four borings to predetermined depths at HDD crossings. The project team included several owner-representatives who served as project managers, as well as contract negotiators, right-of-way agents, safety inspectors and other consultants providing technical and logistical support for the project. The effort required effectively communicating with all project team members.

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