The plans have been laid out, the project has been approved and the workers have begun. The Gulf Coast Project, which runs from Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast began construction on August 6, 2012 in southeast Texas and is broken down into three “spreads”, or sections. Since construction started on this 485-mile, 36-inch-diameter pipeline, over 30 per cent of the pipeline’s construction has been completed.
In that time, construction equipment has cleared and leveled the surface to provide a level, safe platform for heavy equipment. Importantly, the topsoil was carefully segregated from the rest of the subsoil and piled alongside the area where the trench will be excavated.
Pieces of pipe, typically 80 feet long, were brought to the right-of-way on trucks and laid end-to-end near where the trench will be dug. The pipe, coated at the mill with an epoxy resin resistant to corrosion, was then beveled at the edges (to accommodate welding). After two pieces of pipe are welded together, the weld is subjected to rigorous inspection. The slightest flaw can require a weld to be repaired, re-welded and inspected again. A record is kept of each weld. After passing inspection, each weld is coated with epoxy resin.
Various methods are used to dig the trench in which the welded pipe was laid, depending on soil types and topography. Although typical pipeline regulation requires a depth of a cover of 30 inches in most areas, the Gulf Coast Project has agreed to four feet of cover as an added measure of safety.
In a process called “lowering in,” groups of machines known as “side booms” orchestrate the process of moving the welded lengths of pipe into the trench. The subsoil is carefully screened to remove any rocks or sharp objects that might scratch the epoxy coating on the pipe. The pipe is then completely covered by the subsoil, and the topsoil is returned to the trench line and carefully graded to the previous contours.
The Gulf Coast Project is being built using the latest proven technology and techniques, and will benefit from TransCanada’s construction expertise developed over 60 years of pipeline construction and operation. Here are some of the conditions that make our pipelines so safe: more rigorous pipe and coating manufacturing specifications; higher worker qualifications and standards; industry-leading standards for pipeline monitoring and leak detection; and more stringent repair criteria, to name a few.
This 485-mile long project has marked an important step in America’s goal of energy independence and security, and has provided a boost to the economy, creating over 4,000 jobs during the construction phase.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Gulf Coast Project Pipeline, visit our website.