Roundtable on Pipeline Construction Methods at River and Stream Crossings September 8

At the INGAA Foundation’s Midyear Meeting, it was decided to sponsor a roundtable to discuss the scope of a study which would review the increasing stringent requirements for stream and river crossing permits. The goal was to assess the overall environmental impact and costs of various methods and develop practical guidelines for selecting the appropriate stream and river crossing method. Such guidelines could lead to simplified negotiations and expedite the overall pipeline construction process.

Early in September, the INGAA Foundation sponsored a roundtable discussion on the environmental impact and cost of various methods of stream and river crossing during pipeline construction projects. Enron/Florida Gas conducted a tour of seven newly completed crossings to set the stage for the meeting. In attendance at the roundtable were representatives from several state regulatory agencies, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Department of Transportation, environmental consulting firms, natural gas pipeline companies and pipeline contractors. The format of the roundtable included three panels: cut crossings, bored (directional drill) crossings, and flumed and other crossings. Panels were composed of representatives from federal and state agencies, pipeline contractors and pipeline companies. Panel participants presented their views and experience with the particular crossing, and panels concluded with a period of questions and answers.

A few of the points made during the cut crossing panel include environmental friendliness, impacts of turbidity versus sediment loading on a biosystem, and minimal impact through quick construction. The bored crossing panel discussed issues such as esthetic benefits, new technology, environmental impact and cost. Flume, aerial, dam and pump, and microtunneling were subjects of the third panel with discussion focusing on the pros and cons of each method.

The roundtable concluded with a wrap-up session summarizing points made during panel presentations. Participants stressed the need for greater communication among everyone involved in a pipeline construction project, the benefit of sharing studies related to pipeline projects with regulatory agencies, and shared ideas for future INGAA Foundation studies and roundtable topics.

An INGAA Foundation study resulting from this roundtable was proposed to address regulatory agencies procedures for the installation of natural gas pipelines at stream crossings to minimize sediment loading and the resulting impact to aquatic ecosystems. Details on the proposed efforts, literature study and permitting design guide are included in this report. Also included is a proposal for a future roundtable on construction workspace requirements.