Tite Liner® System Used in Two-Mile Gas Pipe Repair

DURANGO, Colo., June 12 -- A crew from United Pipeline Systems (UPS) not only beat a 48-hour deadline to install 12,000 feet of 20-inch Tite Liner® in a natural gas pipeline, but also accomplished two important steps that could dramatically expand business opportunities.

Dorwin Hawn, vice president of UPS, said the project involved the first extensive night work performed by UPS and established that UPS could perform to U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements. "Demonstrating both of those capabilities could make UPS a stronger contender for more projects," he said. He noted that UPS, a division of Insituform, has only done two projects on DOT pipelines in 20 years.

Tom Vossman, Insituform senior vice president and chief operating officer, called the crew’s performance on the gas pipe repair “a milestone in UPS history.”

Project Manager Joe Worthy said the customer, Targa Midstream Services LP, was impressed by UPS’ performance and they already are negotiating for another, bigger contract next year. UPS already repairs and rehabilitates more natural gas, crude oil, and mining pipelines than any other company in the world.

Worthy said Targa agreed to shut down the underground pipeline through Eunice, N.M., and turned it over to UPS for just 48 hours. That required UPS to work around the clock, including the first night work, to install more than two miles of 20-inch Tite Liner®. The night work also was complicated by the fact that the pipeline had the potential to be a “hot pipe,” meaning the crew could have found dangerous residual gas in the pipeline when they began working on it. Although the workers were ready for that, they didn’t find any gas.

“We worked on our safety plans and preparations for more than a week in advance, and we set up a lot of light plants and shutdown as many other pipelines and power lines allowable along the pipeline route,” Worthy said. He said Targa also provided a small crew to assist UPS’ 14 crew members if they needed any help, and UPS also had a reserve crew working on another project a couple of hours away if more manpower was needed.

Worthy said other complications included:
     • A significant build-up of iron oxide scale inside the 24-year-old pipeline, which made it more difficult to pull in the liner. “We had to use some our ‘tricks,’” he said.
     • A DOT regulation required the use of different flanges from the regular UPS flanges at bolt-up connections when installing the seven sections of pipe.
     • “City work” complications with several residential homes, businesses, and road crossings located along the pipeline.
     • Numerous high-pressure pipeline crossings and overhead power lines throughout the work areas.

Worthy said the team prepared for all of the potential complications in advance and, in the end, safely completed the pipeline installation ahead of schedule. With several more hours of work to test and prepare to re-energize the pipeline by Targa, the turnaround still came in an hour under the overall shut down deadline.

Hawn said the crew’s performance gives UPS the ability to point to a record of rehabilitating a significant length of pipeline and turning it back over to be re-energized in less than 48 hours – an important consideration for a pipeline company that is losing money while its pipeline is shut down.

Worthy said, “It’s really unusual for us to work around the clock, but now we’ve established that we can safely and successfully do it. And this also opens the window that we can install Tite Liner® per DOT regulations. That’s important because more and more pipelines are coming under DOT coverage.”

Worthy said all the crew members deserved special credit. He gave special kudos to Superintendents Leonard Carter on the day shift and his brother, Wayne Carter, on the night shift, and District Safety Manager Wes Hartman.