Natural Gas Storage Field Expansion Uses Static Pipe Bursting

By Jim Schill, Contributing Editor | May 2009 Vol. 236 No. 5

Staged 8-inch HDPE from the Herscher storage field expansion project.

While big trenchless pipeline installation projects often receive the majority of the attention in the natural gas industry, sometimes smaller trenchless projects play an important role in maintaining the flow and storage of natural gas and deserve their due.

A recent project for [Kinder Morgan] Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America’s (NGPL) natural gas storage facility in Herscher, IL provides a good example.

The Herscher natural gas storage site was once part of the Trenton Oil Fields which began operating in the 1880s but was abandoned in the early 1900s. Since being abandoned, the Herscher site has been used to store natural gas - beginning in the 1950s - with Cambrian-age sandstone that provides an ideal formation for the underground storage of natural gas.

The American Gas Association reports that there are approximately 420 operating natural gas storage field in the U.S. For an average winter heating season of five months, about 15-20% of natural gas consumed originates in an underground storage facility. These sites are commonly depleted gas reservoirs, aquifers, mined or salt solution caverns, or depleted oil reservoirs, like the Herscher field.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Docket No. CP08-032-000) reports that NGPL filed for approval of an expansion of the Herscher field in January 2008. The ultimate goal of the project was to increase the field's capacity by 10 Bcf and increase the peak-day withdrawal capacity. The expansion would include, new water withdrawal wells, new and extended water-disposal wells, new water pipelines, a new compressor station addition, and extension of five existing natural gas injection/withdrawal wells. The project also included upgrading and repairing portions of the existing storage system.

Project approval was granted last summer and HOSS Construction Co., Searcy, AR, was contracted to complete the work. Dave Seitz, HOSS Construction general manager and vice president, described his company as a utility and mechanical contractor serving the pipeline, communications and municipal industries, specializing in directional drilling. The Herscher storage field project gave Seitz the opportunity to expand the company’s capabilities into static pipe-bursting for the replacement of a 6-inch fiberglass water line.

Seitz said, “Due to the time of year, the well-maintained right-of-way, business activity and the concern for ensuring that the business for adjacent landowners and property appearance was maintained, the decision came down to directional drilling, or pipe bursting the segment. Pipe bursting, in this situation, required only the excavation of one tie-in connection hole, utilizing only one path of ingress and egress. Considering all costs, boring, and clean-up, versus one tie-in hole, pipe bursting was selected.”

For the project, Seitz enlisted the assistance of trenchless equipment manufacturer TT Technologies, Aurora, IL and the 800G Grundoburst static pipe-bursting system.

Contractor And Project Background

While a relatively new company on the books, HOSS Construction has years of utility and pipeline contracting experience. Seitz, a civil engineer, began his career with NGPL at the Herscher storage field nearly 30 years ago. After 20 years with NGPL, Seitz spent several years as a partner in a pipeline and utility construction firm and a consultant in the pipeline industry before finally striking out on his own and starting HOSS construction in 2005.