Surviving The South Texas Pipeline Boom -- Profitably

May 2012, Vol. 67 No. 5

As the trench was being cut by the trio of track trenchers, other APS crews were welding the continuous stretch of six and 8-inch diameter material. Duncan explains that the decision to employ a trencher versus excavators for opening the trench was driven specifically by speed and efficiency.

“We can typically get more production with fewer pieces of equipment,” says Duncan. “Plus, with a trencher, we’re not over-excavating the trench. The trench is being cut in such a way that you’re getting exactly what you need and not a whole lot more. As a result, you can move along a lot more efficiently. It’s quicker, easier and with a lot less impact on the surface and surroundings.”

Upon encountering rivers, streams and road crossings along the route, APS has employed the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) method of construction, completed by a quartet of Vermeer drills that included a D24x40 Series II Navigator HDD and two D36x50 Series II Navigator HDDs. Rounding out the foursome was a Vermeer D100x120 Series II Navigator HDD, which Duncan’s crews used for longer bores.

Landowner sensitivities
Within the 30 miles along the installation route of the first phase, Duncan estimates that his crews will traverse the fields, woods and pastures of more than 100 individual landowners; each of whom pay close attention to the activity taking place on their sacred soils. Duncan reiterates the importance of keeping each landowner informed so that his trenchers can continue trenching, and production moving forward.

“They understand what it means having property above one of the most productive oil and natural gas reserves in the country,” says Duncan. “Yet while these property owners stand to gain financially as a result, they are adamant defenders of their property. We understand that and work in tandem with Enterprise to make sure we communicate with them and address any concerns. A couple of the biggest issues are fence repair along property lines and avoiding oak trees. One of the spreads we had to cut as many as 180 fences. Some were cedar posts, some metal and some treated; keeping track of all the differences was a challenge.”

One of the spreads was comprised of thick, fairly dense brush containing a large number of stately oak trees. Advanced Pipeline had secured aerial photos of the entire pipeline route; yet as Duncan explains, the photos aren’t always indicative of what is on the ground.

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