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Berwyndale to Wallumbilla Pipeline – transporting CSG

Earlier this year, WDS Ltd (formerly Diversified Construction Corporation – DCC) completed the Berwyndale to Wallumbilla Pipeline, located in South East Queensland, for AGL Energy.

“The pipeline will allow AGL to deliver coal seam gas (CSG) from the Wallumbilla Gas Hub to markets in eastern Australia,”? WDS General Manager of Oil and Gas Ciaran Hallinan said.

A pipeline in planning

Project client AGL appointed IDM Partners to project manage the pipeline. WDS was then appointed as construction contractor through an early contractor involvement (ECI) approach.

IDM Project Manager Ray King said “AGL commenced route selection, landholder liaison, cultural heritage negotiations, environmental assessments and pre-front-end engineering and design (FEED) via the engagement of a number of key consultancy partners, with a view that the successful construction tenderer would, once appointed, take over some of these processes.”?

AGL’s brief was to have the pipeline commissioned by early 2009 as part of broader gas infrastructure projects such as the Queensland to South Australia/New South Wales Link (QSN Link) between Ballera and Moomba, and the Wallumbilla Compressor Station. To meet this target, AGL engaged WorleyParsons in April 2008 to undertake early FEED services.

After a tendering process conducted by AGL in May 2008, WDS was contracted to take over the FEED development in June 2008. The scope involved providing construction planning and advice and taking over responsibility for the FEED process under the ECI structure.

Constructing the pipeline

A construction commencement date of 1 September 2008 was targeted. Tight timelines and the challenges of state forest undergrowth necessitated the use of several survey teams from MJ Hedges. The teams conducted initial centreline pegging for cultural heritage survey purposes, followed by a full centreline alignment survey for construction purposes.

Meanwhile, the WDS construction team led by Graeme Dowie and Justin Langton, who had been completing the Jackson to Moomba Oil Pipeline for Santos in the Cooper Basin, began moving crew and equipment into Miles.

Always conscious of the effect of summer rain on the pipeline route, the WDS team was anxious to get on the ground and commence preliminary work on geotechnical investigations, foreign services location and preliminary access work.

AGL received its pipeline licence – PPL 123 – from the Queensland Department of Mines and Energy on 1 September 2008. With construction activity underway the inevitable happened – heavy rain occurred in early September and again in October and December, making conditions extremely difficult in the area known for its black cotton soil. Despite this, construction continued on schedule, with a few rescheduled leave breaks occurring around the worst of the weather.

While pipeline construction was underway, DCC Fabrication Supervisor Steve Jacobs was putting the Berwyndale Launcher Station and Wallumbilla Receiver Station together. Assembly was always ahead of the provision of some items of equipment, but with IDM and WDS working together, the final pieces fell into place.

DCC Instrumentation and Electrical Manager Vincent Lee co-ordinated the cathodic protection and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems.

The interfaces with Queensland Gas Company at Berwyndale and Epic Energy at Wallumbilla, in addition to the need to integrate these systems to suit the electrical and instrumentation operational requirements, proved another challenge.

OH&S and environmental considerations

Ensuring a key focus on the occupational health and safety (OH&S) front was Brian Ross, assisted by paramedic Alex Drapow, both from WDS. As part of the OH&S approach, WDS commissioned a purpose built vehicle to be used as a mobile clinic/medical response vehicle for the construction of the pipeline, guaranteeing a rapid medical response in the event of a medical emergency.

DCC Environmental Manager Kel Sanson oversaw the environmental risk management for the project. The environmental authority obtained by AGL from the Environmental Protection Authority and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service of the state Department of Environment and Resource Management meant that WDS and Ackroyd Engineering Services jointly developed strict guidelines to ensure that the project had limited impact on the community and the local environment.

One of the environmental highlights of the project was the fauna management program, which rescued trapped wildlife from the pipeline trench and also recorded a snapshot of the region’s diverse and endangered species. Fauna handlers removed more than 960 animals from the pipeline trench during the course of construction, registering some species previously unknown in the area.

Mr Hallinan said that it was an excellent achievement by WDS and all involved in the pipeline construction that there were no reportable safety or environmental incidents at completion of the project.

A job well done

Hydrotesting of the pipeline was successfully completed in late January 2009. The pipeline was pre-commissioned with practical completion achieved by 26 January 2009.

Mr Jacobs and Mr Lee returned to site on 1 April 2009 to assist with the final commission. Gas reached operational pressure on 8 April 2009.

Mr Hallinan said that all employed on the project, from concept to completion could be proud of their efforts.

“The achievement of reaching this milestone was the result of a great team effort. Support from all participants meant that, despite the many challenges and hurdles encountered during construction, a united and positive focus by all parties overcame these difficulties. Congratulations to all,”? he said.

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