Surviving The South Texas Pipeline Boom -- Profitably

May 2012, Vol. 67 No. 5

Proud of its strong relationship with Enterprise Products Partners -- a leading North American provider of midstream energy services -- APS is currently constructing a 60-mile rich gas pipeline near the Texas communities of Kenedy and Yorktown. APS was awarded the job after successfully competing in an open bid process. When complete, the multi-phase expansion pipeline project -- situated in the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale -- will serve as a gathering system for this massive oil and natural gas reserve. Discovered in 2008, the Eagle Ford Shale formation ranges in depth from 5,700 to 10,200 feet, covers 3,000 square miles and is estimated to contain 20.8 Tcf of natural gas and 3.35 billion barrels of oil.

“We have a strong relationship and history with Enterprise,” says Duncan. “They know our work ethic and recognize the importance of establishing and maintaining strong supplier partnerships. Our relationship is about much more than simply being the low bid. The folks at Enterprise understand that a low bid doesn’t always translate into ‘low cost’ at the end of the job. Our goal is to be the low cost provider at the end of the project, not simply the low bid. It’s nice working with a customer that understands that ‘sometimes you get what you pay for.’ ”

Trenching trio
The project APS is completing for Enterprise Products Partners involves installing a main gathering system composed of six-inch and 8-inch .250-inch pipe in the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale. The two roughly 30-mile long pipeline systems will serve as a main hub for the gathering field and will tie into a larger line that will transport gas to a refinery or on to another market. The lines are being installed using two Vermeer T655 and one T555 Commander 3 tractor trenchers to prepare an approximately 18-inch-wide, four-foot deep trench for the line. Duncan explains the three-trencher installation approach is Advanced Pipeline’s solution for complying with many of the landowner’s requirements that specify segregating the topsoil from the remainder of the spoil.

“We are using the three trencher machines, and leap frogging down the right-of-way,” says Duncan. “We’ll run one machine for ‘top-soiling’ that cuts the first 12 to 18 inches of topsoil, followed by the next trencher that cuts the remaining depth of the trench, to approximately three to 4 feet. The majority of the soil is typical clay: South Texas gumbo-type dirt, which really hasn’t presented much problem. It’s all pretty decent to cut. Production rates have been averaging 6,000 to 7,000 feet per day.”

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