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Monday, March 17, 2014

Directional Drilling and Road Bore of a Pipeline

Directional Drilling of a Pipeline

      Isn't it an amazing thing?  Drilling a hole through the ground that goes underneath a road...or a lake...or the ship channel...and then reaching through that hole and pulling a stinking PIPELINE through that hole.  WOW.  It is easy to wrap my brain around a cable being pulled like that....but a steel pipeline that might weight thousands of pounds per foot?? Incredible.
     If you've never had the opportunity to view a pipe pull in person; then today is your lucky day!  But wait...there's more.  Not only does this video show a pipe being pulled through a bore hole; this video shows FOUR (yes 4) pipelines being pulled through the bore hole at the same time!  In this specific case, there are two 16" lines and two smaller lines all bundled together.  This is a somewhat short bore coming in just over a quarter mile.
     As you might imagine, dragging four long, heavy, steel pipelines through the ground is likely to cause some damage.  Surely those pipelines will be banging into one another.  Surely there will be roots, rocks, clay and other possible obstacles down 8-10 feet beneath the surface.  In addition, the pipelines don't all lay next to one another like they do on a pipe truck...instead they are all free to go wherever they would like to go.  To paint the picture even further - we've got a 48" OD hole that has been drilled -- and 52" (outside diameter) combined inches of pipeline.  At least one of those pipelines is going to be surfing on the other three throughout the process!  Scary!
     This presents the other side of the problem:  how is a pipeline....that is literally RIDING ON TOP OF three other pipelines going to travel 1/4 mile without getting or causing damage??  FBE and ARO coatings like Powercrete are very reliable external pipeline coatings; but they are not really designed for pipe surfing by other pipes...
     In this particular case, the customer chose to use our BBS bumper system to protect the pipelines during the boring process (even the surfing pipeline).  Based on the BBS performance - they were THRILLED that they did.  But more on that later. 
     Now on to the show.  I hope I haven't built it up too much.  Before I'd ever seen a road bore, I expected some kind of speed to it like you might see when you pull the string from the top of a top.  I was wrong! 

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