Rock In Colorado Challenges HDD Contractors

September 2012, Vol. 67 No. 9

When problems threatened a segment of the eight-mile, Edwards to Meadow Mountain natural gas pipeline upgrade in Colorado, Fugal Pipeline Project Manager Brady Hansen had to make a decision.

The 2,011-foot segment of the 16-inch diameter line through the Eagle-Vail business district was to be installed using horizontal directional drilling (HDD) to avoid road closures and minimize disruption of local business. After multiple attempts without a completed pilot hole the situation was tense.

Business owners had been told there would be little disruption and had been given a construction schedule. As the schedule deadline passed with no progress, doubts about a successful HDD installation grew and the financial consequences of an open cut installation that would close traffic to the Eagle-Vail business district created worries.

In the HDD business, nothing is guaranteed, but these conditions were extreme. A call was made to Jim Brotherton of Brotherton Pipeline.

Brotherton was familiar with the project and had submitted a proposal a few months earlier. However, scheduling had prevented his company from becoming involved in the project.

Perfect timing

Fortunately, the call came just as Brotherton Pipeline's HDD team was demobilizing from another project. Based out of Gold Hill, OR, the Brotherton name is synonymous with pipeline construction in the west and northwest. Jim Brotherton, president, has over 30 years of experience and is a pioneer in the HDD industry.

He is also well aware of the boulders and cobble, inherent to the area, which can create a worst case scenario for an HDD contractor. Hansen had confidence he was changing more than just equipment when he engaged Brotherton Pipeline as the new HDD contractor for the project.

As the crew began rigging up the 550,000-pound Ditch Witch rig, staffed for 24 hour operations, Brotherton was well aware that area business owners and their employees were keeping a close watch on the project’s progress and that much of the earlier confidence in the HDD had waned when the previous contractor attempted to complete the job.

He met with the group, listened to their concerns regarding a possible road closure, and explained his plan, including the fact that this was not going to be a routine drill. Brotherton did stress, however, that the circumstances dictated a need for immediate success.

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