Case Studies

Precision Pipeline LLC

Meeting the demands of pipeline construction parameters today

The factors that determine a pipeline contractor’s success today are far different from just a few years ago. Pipeline contractors need more than operating capital, access to equipment and pipeline industry experience; standards have heavily ramped up making safety, environmental compliance and quality paramount. Based in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Precision Pipeline LLC (PPL) is one of the first pipeline contractors uniquely designed to meet the needs of today’s more stringent pipeline construction parameters.

The company’s focus on safety, environmental compliance and quality delivery are driven by its commitment to be socially responsible. PPL inspires to maintain and improve its surrounding community, and grow and sustain customer confidence and care, even in respect to large, multinational oil and gas conglomerates. Since 2004, PPL has been building a trusted reputation across the U.S. in pipeline transmission, gathering, maintenance, integrity testing, hydrostatic testing and horizontal directional drilling.

“PPL was established in 2004 in Eau Claire by Dan Murphy and Steve Rooney,” says Glen Elias, chief financial officer of PPL. As industry veterans, Murphy and Rooney made use of longstanding relationships to build and grow the company in just a few years.

“In 2009, MasTec Inc. (MTZ), a multinational infrastructure engineering and construction company with stake in the oil and gas market, purchased PPL to be its premiere service line,” details Elias. Under the ownership and support of MTZ, the company has continued its exponential growth.

Safety culture

PPL is continuously called on by national players to replace and repair critical energy infrastructure for its proven safety record. For PPL, safety culture runs deep.

This program focuses on safety in both terms of employee health and well-being, but also a safe work environment. Health and safety in the workplace is about preventing work-related injury and disease while designing an environment that promotes well-being for everyone. In this process, PPL understands knowledge is the key ingredient in providing a safe work environment -one where everyone knows correct procedures and practices.

Environmental compliance

PPL is continuously working to uphold on-the-job and environmental compliance in sensitive areas. The company follows stringent procedures to care for the environments it works in based on guidelines from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), the USDA, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Natural Resource Conservation Service and other regulatory agencies.

“Our goal is to minimize the extent and duration of disturbance and protect exposed soil by diverting runoff to stabilized areas,” explains Elias. PPL installs temporary and permanent erosion control measures and implements inspection and maintenance programs. Unlike other companies, PPL puts environmental managers on each project to give it the same focus and attention as safety and quality.

Quality product

Quality assurance and control has always been part of the pipeline industry. However, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), a sector of the DOT, has increased the focus on items such as quality to prevent any safety or compliance issues. Because of this, PPL has taken initiative to be a leader in the industry by developing a program built on continuous improvement and training.

The cost of quality is minimized by doing things right the first time. “Part of our quality assurance practices include hiring individuals with experience and certifications, empowering employees to reject deficient work and initiate corrective actions, train all employees, and make sure operators are qualified by a third party,” explains Elias. “Our quality control practices include performing audits to each phase of the pipeline process, where welding and coating of the pipe are most important.”

Line 6B Replacement project

In recent years the company has completed significant pipeline construction projects for industry giants such as Energy Transfer, Kinder Morgan, Sunoco, Williams, Rice Energy and National Fuel. But one PPL’s largest customer has been Enbridge Energy. “Our involvement in the Enbridge Eastern Access Pipeline, a roughly $1 billion project, is the most significant undertakings in our history,” outlines Elias. “The most recent part of the project is the line 6B replacement.”

PPL’s scope of work included 285 miles of crude oil mainline installed adjacent to existing segments between Lake County, Indiana, and Marysville, Michigan. Line 6B is an integral part of the area’s critical energy infrastructure, providing an efficient supply of crude oil to numerous regional refineries in the U.S. and Canada.

The capital investment of the Line 6B Replacement Project, including the pipe and associated station and terminal facilities, is estimated at $2.63 billion. The replacement reduces the number of future maintenance activities and restores the capacity of Line 6B to meet increasing demand along the pipeline route, largely driven by current and planned refinery upgrades and expansions in Michigan, Ohio, and eastern Canada.

The pipeline was placed into service Oct. 1, 2014. “The Line 6B replacement is one of the largest jobs for any pipeline construction company in the country over the last two years,” adds Elias. It utilized the majority of our workforce, and was a tremendous collaborative effort between Enbridge and our construction teams. The original line was over 40 years old and the infrastructure has grown immensely causing many obstacles and challenges to construction.

Focus on the future

PPL built its roots in the Midwest. Founders Murphy and Rooney were from the Midwest and the company’s first jobs were in the region. The Midwest continues to be an area of growth and expansion given its proximity with the Canadian Oil Sands.

Additionally, PPL was one of the first union contractors in the Marcellus Shale region, and has continued to be a prominent player. More recently, PPL has been building a solid customer base in the Utica Shale and southwest United States.

“The company’s relationship with MTZ has PPL thinking about future work in MX [where MTZ has a joint venture with Energy Transfer Company],” adds Elias. “We have been focused on the Midwest and Marcellus. Given that we’re a union contractor, about 50 percent of our workforce travels with us, while the other 50 percent comes from local union shops. We can have anywhere from 2,000 employees during a downtime, all the way up to 4,000 during construction season.”

As the company looks to expand throughout the Utica Shale and southwestern U.S., Precision Pipeline LLC continues to uphold the highest standards in safety and environmental compliance, meeting the needs of today’s more rigorous pipeline construction parameters and capturing some of the country’s largest projects.

Published on: July 7, 2015

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