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APPLYING NEW TECHNOLOGY TO SOLVE AN AC MITIGATION ISSUE IN A HARSH ENVIROMENT

As our ROW’s become congested with an ever-increasing influx of utilities vying for the same
space, identifying and solving complex issues such as AC Mitigation are coming more to the forefront of
our Midstream partners. Gone are the days when utilities can be routed in the most efficient manner.
Now with limited space and demands placed by local, state and federal government entities, different
providers of different utility services are becoming closely intertwined as they now compete for and
occupy shared space and resources. These newly formed partnerships often create a new set of issues,
problems or reactions caused by operations that were not an issue before shared corridors became the
norm.

Such was the case for a project recently completed in El Paso, Texas between NuStar Energy L.P.
and El Paso Electric. A team effort including surveys, AC Modeling and an innovative new approach to
installing selected materials allowed this project to come to a successful conclusion. NuStar Energy has a
pipeline and tank farm located on the outskirts of El Paso, Texas supplying fuels to this SW corner of the
state. El Paso electric, the local electric utility company, approached NuStar Energy about installing 3-115
KV powerlines parallel to their pipeline in this ROW. The AC corrosion and safety risk of the existing NuStar
03P pipeline running east from El Paso, Texas (US) in collocation with future El Paso Electric (EPE) power
lines, was investigated. After the primary study was accomplished, an additional study was required. The
aim of this additional study was to verify if the original recommendation of counterpoises between power
poles is still required. This pipeline is a 10” coal tar coated pipeline installed in the mid 1990’s with
approximately 3160 ft. paralleling the projected new electric transmission line. Several crossings of
existing electric power lines and existing pipelines were a concern as well.

The team assembled consisted of NuStar, El Paso Electric and the following strategic partners:
Accurate Corrosion Control, Inc. out of Glendale Arizona, hired to perform the AC mitigation study and
provide field data to Elsyca, a modeling company based out of the Netherlands, as well as with SAE Inc. a
manufacturer of conductive concrete from Barrie, Ontario. These partners were tasked with a request to
come up with a reasonable and financially fiscal solution to solve the issues encountered.

The issues became readily apparent as testing was done; initial testing in 2014 showed high soil
resistivity’s and low moisture content in the strata. Adding to the problem, the ROW also paralleled a
remote rural area with houses and businesses along the pipeline, requiring consideration for safety and
security concerns. Initial modeling with the simulated additional induced voltage from these proposed
powerlines showed the project with maximum coating stress before mitigation of 8066 volts and
maximum touch voltage before mitigation of 3110 volts. Once the modeling was completed and all
calculations figured, the counterpoises between power poles were not required. The recommendation
came back for 16,690 feet of #4/0 copper cable incased in a 6”x6” column of conductive concrete-i.e.
Conducrete©, laid horizontally at a 2.5’ depth approximately 5’ separation from the pipeline. The cable
was to be connected to the pipeline at 5 locations with connections made through solid state decoupler
devices with a current rating of 20 A-(steady state) and 5000 A (fault, 3 cycles clearance time). The
Conducrete would be applied in powder form. As it is 32% hydroscopic, it would extract moisture from
the surrounding area, increase earth to ground contact, provide 10X life of bare copper and reduce risk of
theft or damage by future excavations.

Accurate Corrosion Control Inc. was then faced with the task of installing this system. Two options
were looked at with regards to placing the Conducrete©: it could be placed manually – which was a
daunting task as it would require approximately 5,000 55# bags to be manually opened and poured dry
over the copper cable – or a delivery system would have to be engineered to allow super sacks – (2200
lbs) to be utilized.

SAE’s engineers were tasked with coming up with a viable delivery system that could be used in a
rural two track road setting with a minimum of maintenance and equipment to support this placer. The
ROW consisted of a two-track path in sandy desert soil. The unit must be small enough to be towed behind
a one-ton 4x4 pickup truck, self-contained with regards to powering delivery unit and fast set up as
materials and equipment had to be stored overnight in a secure environment some distance from the
ROW. A minimum production capability of 500 feet per day was also requested. SAE’s engineering staff
designed, built and tested a Conducrete© placer at their plant in Midhurst, Ontario. This placer, mounted
on a 3-axle trailer and powered by a 20KW generator was then disassembled and sent via truck line to
NuStar’s terminal facility in El Paso, TX. SAE’s engineering staff then flew down to oversee placer assembly
and be on hand to train and troubleshoot any issues with the Conducrete© placer. A large 60 HP Ditch
witch trencher, extended reach forklift, backhoe and one-ton truck completed the equipment list to
successfully complete this project. The project was started in September 2016, and was completed in
December 2016. Placement rates of 800-1000 ft. per day were achieved. Extended travel time to and
from jobsite, trenching the ditch, laying the cable, installing the conducrete© column and backfilling the
ditch were also included in this production rate.
The job required that communication be closely monitored between ACCI and SAE as there was
limited inside storage on site. Each super sack contained enough material to cover approximately 130 ft.
of column. With the product being shipped from SAE’s Midhurst, Ontario, Canada factory at 18 super
sacks per semi-truck, logistics became a critical component. With a minimum lead time of one week,
scheduling issues required that the ACCI purchasing department, job site receiving team and SAE’s
shipping personnel worked closely to prevent costly idle down time and keep the project on track.

The project was completed in December 2016 and once commissioned. the initial readings
showed a significant decrease in AC voltages. It was readily apparent that the team assembled by NuStar
Energy project had come together with a successful design and implementation strategy. A long-term
mitigation solution was achieved for this challenging project, utilizing new construction methods and
installation procedures. Even with the future addition of these powerlines, NuStar’s pipeline in this shared
ROW will be adequately protected through AC Mitigation for years to come.