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Planning and
of Pipelines

The procedure involved in the planning and construction of any new pipeline system
depends on several factors including the material (fluid or solid) to be transported
by the pipeline (whether it is natural gas, oil, water, sewage, slurry, or capsules),
the length of the pipeline, and the environment (whether the pipeline is in an urban
or countryside setting, whether it is on land or offshore, whether the climate is
warm or cold), etc. However, there are more similarities than dissimilarities in
constructing different types of pipelines. Once a person understands how a given
type of pipeline is built, it is not difficult to figure out how another type should be
built. The following is an outline of the procedure used for long-distance steel
pipelines that carry natural gas or oil:
Step 1. Preliminary planning—Determine the origin and the destination of the
pipe, the product to be transported, the approximate length, diameter and
type of the pipe to be used, the velocity of flow, headloss, power consumption, capital cost, operating expenses, economics, and many other practical
considerations. All the design and calculations done during this stage are
preliminary and approximate. Once the preliminary investigation confirms
that the pipeline project is economically feasible and practical, then the
next step is taken.
Step 2. Route selection—A pipeline route should be selected from, and marked
on, both a highway map and a topographical map such as the Quadrangle
Map of the U.S. Geological Survey. Aerial photography and surveys of the
pipeline route are undertaken to obtain data needed for the design and preparation of route maps and property plats, which are normally required for
right-of-way acquisition.
Step 3. Acquisition of right-of-way—The acquisition of the right-of-way for a
pipeline can come either through a voluntary process—negotiation with
land owners for the purchase, lease, or easement of their land needed for
the passage of the pipeline, or through condemnation, which is an involuntary legal process. For public-owned pipelines and for pipelines that are
© 2003 by CRC Press LLC

Step 7. and collect other data along the route that are needed for the design of the pipeline. Even in a nonfreezing climate.334 Pipeline Engineering privately owned that serve the public. Step 5.S.S.S. Step 4. U. The railroad industry in the U. Soil borings.. Ditching and trenching—Use hydraulic backhoes or some other equipment to dig ditches or trenches of rectangular or trapezoidal cross section. Step 6. U. testing of soil and other data collection—Once the acquisition of the right-of-way has been completed. this may involve clearing a path of a minimum width of 50 ft (15 m).S. The lack of eminent domain discourages investment in and commercial use of freight pipelines in the U. For interstate pipelines that must cross railroads many times. has traditionally disallowed pipelines to cross railroads. whichever is greater. due to strong lobbying efforts by the rail industry against such legislation. Pipeline design—To be discussed in Chapter 13. but has not yet granted the same to coal pipelines. it is difficult to build such pipelines without cooperation from railroads.S. or pipelines that transport other solids. Landowners who lose their land through condemnation are normally compensated at a fair market value. The depth of the ditch (trench) should be such that the pipe will be below the frostline or at least 3 ft (1 m) beneath the land surface. Seek legal permits—Permits from different state and federal agencies may be needed. Environmental Protection Agency. The U. c. Start construction—The construction of pipeline involves the following sub-steps: a.S. etc.S. © 2003 by CRC Press LLC . which is a legal term for the right to condemn land. Department of Transportation (for pipelines that carry hazardous fluids such as petroleum or natural gas). Forestry Service (if the pipeline crosses federal forest). Congress has granted eminent domain to interstate pipelines that carry natural gas and oil. and removing trees and flattening the path somewhat so that trucks and heavy equipment can be brought in. such as the U. Right-of-way preparation—For large pipelines. They should be avoided during the route selection step of the process whenever possible and practical. major pipelines should be at least about 3 ft (1 m) underground to reduce the chance of damage from human activities. it is especially important for pipelines that convey water. Two problems often encountered in ditching (trenching) are groundwater and hard rock. the state and federal governments grant the right of eminent domain. such as plowing and land leveling. b. depriving the public of the benefits of freight pipelines. the pipeline developer can undertake necessary geotechnical investigations and determine whether groundwater and/or hard rock will be encountered. especially pipelines that carry freight in competition with railroads. Staying below the frostline prevents damage to the pipe by freezing and thawing of the ground. Stringing—Bringing in the pipe and setting the pipe in a line along one side of the right of way—stringing. The matter remains controversial in the U.

more than one crew can be used simultaneously to shorten the construction period. River crossing—Three methods for river crossing are ditching (i. cutting a ditch in riverbed and then burying the pipeline there). recent advances in horizontal directional drilling (HDD) have greatly enhanced the technical and economic feasibility of drilling and boring across rivers to lay pipes (see Section 12. Modern boring machines can bore long holes to install pipes under rivers and other obstacles.. i. Boring—When passing through obstacles such as a highway. For extra-long pipelines. For pipelines laid underwater. Pipe laying—The welded pipeline is lifted and laid into the ditch by a line of side-booms parked along the right of way at approximately equal intervals. After the portion is completed. or rivers. After the pipe is backfilled. it is hydrostatically tested with water to meet applicable code and government requirements. and the pipeline is coated and wrapped with special protective and insulating materials before being laid in the ditch.e.. boring a hole underneath the riverbed and then pulling a pipe through). Boring methods will be discussed in more detail in Section 12. have been built rather rapidly—completing more than 1 mi per working day per crew.Planning and Construction of Pipelines 335 d. the earth is then compacted. and the land surface is restored. Backfill and restoration of land—The pipe in the ditch is then backfilled by earth. a few miles) at a time. f. g. boring may be used to get the pipe across the obstacle from underneath. ditching often proves to be the most economical. Welding is discussed in more detail in Section 12. and wrapping—After the ditch has been prepared.e. Restoration involves cleaning out construction waste materials and planting of grass. For a long pipeline. Welding. For wide rivers of shallow water. Major pipelines in the U. Tunneling—Needed for crossing mountains or hills. railroad.. Otherwise. bridging (i. e. the pipe must be covered with a thick layer of concrete to prevent the pipe from floating.e. disruption to the community at each place along the pipeline will be limited to a few weeks. the same procedure is applied to the next portion. h.S.3.5. such pipes may be damaged and may leak. The welded joints are radiographically inspected. In so doing. Iron and concrete pipes require that the ditch bottom be covered by a layer of gravel or crushed rock to facilitate drainage and reduce settling.5). the foregoing procedure is applied to a portion of the pipeline (say. coating. steel pipes of 40-ft length (12m) are welded together to form a long line or string. Steel pipes normally do not require the use of bedding materials to support the pipes in the ditch. building a new bridge or utilizing an existing bridge to carry the pipeline across a river). However. and boring (i.4. © 2003 by CRC Press LLC .