Michels Completes Crucial Water Crossings On Rex Pipeline Project

September 2009 Vol. 64 No. 9

Salt River Drill – Despite harsh winter weather and difficult soil condition the Salt River drill was completed without incident and ahead of schedule. As drilling began, crews worked in rocky soil. As drilling progressed, conditions became more challenging when they encountered sand. Because of those conditions, crews operated 24-hours a day in order to maintain the integrity of the bore – making sure the pilot hole did not collapse while drilling in the sandy soil.

Mississippi River Crossing -- At the Mississippi River location, once drilling began, everything fell into place and crews were moving along at a record pace. That was good news for everyone because at the same time, another crew was working on the 3,800-foot bore across the Mississippi River into Illinois and both needed to be completed prior to the tie-in on Blackburn Island. While crews worked on the Salt River Drill, a second crew and drill rig were busy on the Mississippi River crossing. Both bores were carried out simultaneously in order to ensure both tie-ins could take place at the same time.

According to Michels personnel, the most challenging aspect of the Mississippi River bore was maintaining a solid drill within the sandy soil conditions. Unlike the Salt River drill where the soil contained more rock than sand, the Mississippi River drill was carried out in sand and no rock. The first drill resulted in a collapsed pilot hole, which crews quickly re-swabbed for a successful pull back.

“We are very pleased with the work Michels has done on this job,” says Allen Fore, Rockies Express Pipeline. “The directional crossings are a crucial part of the success of the project, and the efforts by their construction crews were instrumental to the progress on these drills.”

Michels was also able to complete both pullbacks well ahead of schedule, allowing crews from Welded Construction L.P. to move forward with the tie-in on Blackburn Island which was completed within two weeks.

Big Darby Creek Crossing – After the tie-in on Blackburn Island, crews headed to Ohio for the final two water crossings. The first was at Big Darby Creek, a 3,418-foot, 42-inch crossing crucial to the project because numerous government agencies were keeping a close eye for environmental reasons. The area was surrounded by a walking path and a pristine trout stream that needed to be protected during the boring process.

The chance of an inadvertent return was probable and crews worked around the clock to make sure that didn’t happen. Crews avoided this problem by running the bore deeper to ensure a successful pullback.