Record 42-Inch Bore Helps Connect LNG Terminal, Pipelines

Shared Risk, Cooperation Make Complicated Project Possible
April 2009 Vol. 64 No. 4

When Sempra Energy’s Pipelines and Storage business unit needed to install a new pipeline from Sempra LNG’s new Cameron LNG receipt terminal to existing interstate pipelines north of the LNG facility, they were well aware that the project presented special challenges.

Connecting the $850 million LNG terminal taking shape on a 275 acre industrial zoned site along the Calcasieu River near Lake Charles, LA, to a major pipeline junction capable of accessing 65 percent of U.S. gas markets, required 36 miles of 42 inch pipeline. Cameron LNG is slated to commence commercial operation later this year.

The construction of the pipeline was awarded to the pipeline division of the Norman, OK-based Henkels & McCoy Inc. As the general contractor for this project, Henkels & McCoy selected Laney Directional Drilling (LDD), Houston, to perform all of the horizontal directional drills on the project.

The pipeline required the installation of 16 horizontal directional drills ranging in length from 1,300 feet to 5,000 feet. Of these drills, a 2,000 foot crossing of the Salt Ditch Canal and the 5,000 foot crossing of the Intracoastal Waterway were expected to be particularly challenging.

The original plan called for both the Salt Ditch Canal and the Intracoastal Waterway crossings to be staged from an island accessible only by boat or barge. In order to accommodate the Laney HDD rig and support equipment, the entire drill site had to be constructed with materials and equipment that was barged up the Intracoastal Waterway to the drill site location. Plans called for the crew to set up the drill rig and work on the island site, where they would first drill the Salt Ditch crossing and then turn the rig around and drill the Intracoastal Waterway crossing.

Initial concerns

Hernan Machicado, project manager for Sempra Pipelines & Storage, expressed concerns about the costs and logistics of the two drilling projects. In an effort to reduce costs associated with the transportation of matting, equipment and employees, plus the expenses involved in piping fresh water and waste drilling fluid, Machicado explored the possibility of installing the pipeline with a single drill that would extend approximately 6,700 feet.