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The Impossible Made Possible

On The East-West Gas Pipeline

By V.N. Prasad, Vice President Pipelines, Punj Lloyd

he East-West pipeline being built The project was managed succcessfully, The towers at inaccessible areas on the slope
by Reliance Industries Limited is safely and to the satisfaction of our clients. section were erected by joining each tower ele-
designed to transport natural gas from ment in-situ. This involved shifting each tower
the Krishna Godavari Basin in Andhra Cable-Crane System element to the site manually. Being a tough and
Pradesh, traversing the southern Indian states On The Bhivpuri Ghat risky job, joining each element on steep inclines
of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, The Western Ghats are hill ranges run- required careful planning of safety measures to
before terminating at the world’s largest refin- ning parallel to the south-west coast of India. ensure that the installation work was carried out
ery, Reliance’s Jamnagar Refinery in Gujarat. Bhivpuri Ghat in Maharashtra receives heavy successfully with utmost safety.
The total length of this 48-inch pipeline is 1,440 rainfall, has lush tropical vegetation and dense As a risk-control measure, all employees
km, making it India’s longest gas pipeline. hardwood forests. Though just a 2.3-km sec- were required to use the full body harness
Punj Lloyd, a global EPC services provider tion, the challenge was not in terms of distance with the lifeline. This ensured elimination of
in the energy, petrochemical and infrastructure but in its very steep hilly terrain, with slopes accidents. Nets were provided on the slope at
sectors, has been associated with success on up to 70°. The transportation of pipe, equip- strategic locations to arrest possible rolling
tough terrain projects of LOT C of the Baku — ment, and numerous other construction tools of stones or small landslides. Workers on the
Tbilisi — Ceyhan pipeline in Turkey and the and tackle were a logistical challenge. To towers were provided retractable fall arres-
island hopping pipeline in Indonesia through overcome this, the Skyline system, a special tors, enabling them to work freely in relative
the rocky seabed and shallow waters of the technique of pipelaying by an eco-efficient terms, eliminating the hazard of falling during
Panaran and Pemping Islands. cable-crane system, was adopted, dividing ascending or descending the towers.
With experience working in all sorts of ter- the construction activities into two sections - The steep gradients of the Bhivpuri Ghat
rain, it was not surprising when the toughest namely upper and lower slopes. varied from 30° to 70° broken by a plateau of
sections of the East-West pipeline were awarded 410 meters.
to Punj Lloyd for laying 303 km of the 48-inch Right of Use Excavation on the steep slope was carried
pipeline and associated facilities, with eight The route survey was a very critical activity out by special Menzi Muck excavators. These
MLV stations, five compressor stations, two as it involved traversing dense forest land. One excavators have an adjustable chassis to suit
tap-off stations and seven river crossings. The of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, the Right
work was divided into spreads across the states of Use was hence restricted
ence restricte ted
te sen-
e to protect this sen
of Gujarat (spreads 7A and 8A of 78 km) and sitive ecosystem.
Maharashtra (spread 7B of 107 km, spread 6A Five crane tow-
of 102 km, spread 6B of 15 km). ers were erected
ted on
Punj Lloyd accepted the challenges of the location with th the
project which are highlighted below. help of excava-
 Laying of 2.3 km pipeline in Bhivpuri tors after being
Ghat with slopes of 70°. pre-assembledd
 Narmada River Crossing of 1.5 km by in small
HDD — the second-longest river crossing sections
of 48-inch diameter ever done in India. at a work-
 Laying of 222 km of pipeline in the shop. Towerss
highly sensitive and volatile atmosphere were sup-
in the state of Maharashtra. ported by y
 Tapi River Crossing by Float and Sink cable, ropess East-West Pipeline map
technique. and anchored d
 Laying of pipeline in the protected area by a deadman anchor,
n aanc
nc hor,
ho r,
of the Great Indian Bird Sanctuary in which is a five-meter
f ive-
iv e-me
e- mete
t r
Maharashtra. Permission was received pipe of 46-inchnncch diam-
d am
di m-
almost at the end of the contract tenure eter buried att a depthpthh of
ep of
after the approval by a high-powered six meters.
committee constituted by the Supreme
Court of India due to the sensitivity of
this restricted area.

34 Pipeline & Gas Journal / August 2008 /

Transportation of heavy equipment through eco-efficient cable crane system.
the terrain on which they are to work; a pow- out the hydrotesting at a height difference lagers concerned about a temple along the
erful all-wheel drive and a walking function of 580 meters. Precautionary measures and original pipeline route, the alignment of Tapi
that makes the equipment resemble a giant round-the-clock surveillance ensured a stable River crossing was shifted. As a result, the
tarantula. Gradients in excess of 100% pose no pressure head was maintained throughout the crossing location was shifted 100 meters.
problems. As a result, four of these excavators pressurization and depressurization activities. Fresh soil investigation for the crossing was
were put to work on the uphill and downhill carried out and it was discovered that despite
gradients. They also feature a bucket attach- Slope Protection the short distance, the soil strata had changed
ment and a drilling attachment for drilling and And Restoration completely. At the new location, the river bed
blasting holes wherever rock was present. Due to the exceptional biological diversity had huge boulders, rock and high density grav-
The sheath rock was so hard that it required and richness of the Ghat region, a new concept el. The scour was calculated to be 8.5 meters
three to four rounds of controlled blasting to for slope protection was introduced in India, from the river bed and the pipeline had to be
remove it. It was important to perform con- using a combination of Gabions and Reno mat- laid at 10.5 meters from the river bed, until the
trolled blasting to prevent damaging towers tresses. These are boxes made of flexible twist- limit of the crossing. However, in view of the
and cables and to minimize impact on micro- ed hexagonal wire mesh coated with zinc/PVC soil characteristics, HDD of the river crossing
climatic conditions. into which stones of various sizes are filled. was not possible.
Excavation in the flat section was done by In keeping with the performance standards Punj Lloyd offered a plan to execute the
two 20-ton excavators transported to the loca- of International Financial Corporation, endem- crossing by a float and sink method where the
tion using the cable-crane system. To facilitate ic conditions were created by spreading soil concrete-coated pipe could be laid across the
their transportation, the excavators were first and organic material with native seeds over Tapi River.
dismantled, shipped part by part and then re-as- these boxes. Coir mattresses were laid over the The total span of the crossing was of 750
sembled, as the maximum load-bearing capac- Gabions to keep them in place. This system meters. After the client had approved the meth-
ity of the cable-crane system was 12 tons. controls soil erosion during the monsoon season odology, the contract for the river crossing was
For the welding process, the Skyline system and ensures the growth of locally prevalent spe- awarded to Punj Lloyd. It involved design,
proved to be a boon for fit up on the steep cies for restoration of the endemic vegetation engineering with anti-buoyancy calculations,
slopes. In addition to the Skyline support along the pipeline route to its original form. design float spacing from setup to removal
system, platforms were fabricated and fitted of the floats once the pipe is pulled into the
onto the pipe to facilitate welding. Owing to Benefits Of water.
the varying trench profile, a surveyor accom- Cable-Crane System This was a challenging river crossing. The
panied the welding crew so that the required  Eco-efficient system doesn’t affect the 48-inch diameter pipe string, with more than
bends were calculated in advance, four to five flora and fauna of the area. 6 inches of concrete coating, was 500 meters
pipes ahead, to ensure continuous welding.  Enables welding fit up at steep slopes long and weighed 1,200 tons. Nearby, a road
For trench protection, slope breakers were with complete safety.
transported from a central location to desig-  Fast and feasible system for transporta- Menzi Muck excavator
nated intervals along the pipeline route and tion in hills and extreme gradients.
manually stacked at these locations.  Can be used in all weather conditions for
For pre-padding, post-padding and backfill- uninterrupted working.
ing, large capacity carriages were specially
fabricated and fitted into the Skyline system Tapi River Crossing
to ensure speedy completion.  Name of River : Tapi
Cleaning, gauging and hydrotesting was  Chainage : 1322 KM (spread 8)
completed successfully in a single attempt.  Crossing Length : 750 meters
It was a significant accomplishment to carry  Bed Width : 531.8 meters
 Bank Width : 584.63 meters
The Tapi River was one of the critical
crossings for the East-West Pipeline project.
Initially this crossing was planned to be exe-
cuted by a horizontal directional drill (HDD)
as part of the mainline contract.
However, due to resistance from local vil-

Photos courtesy of Punj Lloyd.

Pipeline & Gas Journal / August 2008 / 35
Photos courtesy of Punj Lloyd.

Tapi River Crossings by

Float and Sink technique

sidebooms were deployed to keep the string in

Slope Protection place on the rollers during the pullback. Once
with Gabions and on the rollers, the floats were clamped onto the
Renzo mattresses concrete-coated pipe.
As the trench was being readied, the string
crossing 260 meters away from the north bank was being prepared for pullback. The drill
had to be negotiated by thrust boring, as it was pipe string was shifted to the other bank by a
a busy city road. A 66-inch RCC casing across pontoon and hooked up to the ‘A’ frame while
the road was installed and the 60-inch diam- the bend was supported by the ‘A’ frame on the
eter concrete-coated pipe string was fabricated pontoon. The pullback started in the morning
in a continuous string and bored through. and took two consecutive days. The operation
Meanwhile, on the river front, the design was so smooth and well-designed that the pull
calculations were carried out for anti-buoyancy force was very minimal.
and to determine the size and number of floats Once the string was pulled across, the ‘A’
required to pull the pipe into the river. Also, an frame was disconnected and the cold field sag
‘A’ frame was fabricated on a pontoon to sup- and over bend were welded to the tail end of
port the cold field sag and bends were welded the pipe and pulled further into the river. Once
to the string, so that no tie-in was required the string was across the river, the floats were
once the pipe was pulled into the water and the removed and the pipe was allowed to sink into
end of the bend was on the river bank after the the trench. The pipeline was later backfilled
pullback was completed. with the help of the excavators on pontoons.
Our 400-ton HDD rig was mobilized and The project was meticulously planned and
Eco-efficient cable crane system rigged up on the south bank of the river to pull accomplished in the contractual time frame
the string from the north bank. Six 100-ton with no lost-time injuries or accidents. P&GJ

36 Pipeline & Gas Journal / August 2008 /