Business and Economics

Enbridge Pipeline Project Running Through Region Communities

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November 22, 2013 — A pipeline replacement project originating in Northwest Indiana and continuing into Michigan will help meet increasing need for crude oil throughout the Midwest.

Work is underway for a major pipeline replacement project by Canada-based Enbridge Incorporated, who is installing more than 200 miles of crude oil pipes from Griffith to Marysville, Michigan.

The $1.5-billion Line 6B replacement project began in June in Indiana’s Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties.  Project director Tom Hodge is monitoring horizontal directional drilling near turkey creek golf course in Merrillville,  “To minimize the future maintenance that’s required on the line, to ensure the integrity of the line, and the demand for this crude oil has increased, and we need some additional capacity on the system.”

About 60 miles of the pipeline project will take place in Indiana.

The new pipeline weighs six tons per section.  At 36 inches in diameter, Hodge says the 80-foot segment pipes are larger and of better quality than the existing pipes,  “The pipe we are installing is heavier walls, higher grade steel, it’s got a better coating on it.  We’re using automatic welding process, which was not available in the late ‘60s.”

The pipeline construction process is intense and is detailed.  Work includes even testing the mud.

Pipeline construction mud technologist Tim Tynes says, “The heavier the mud gets, the thicker it gets or an out of control thickness the harder it’s going to be to pump.  Whenever you have a fluid that’s really hard to pump then you could have crack outs, inadvertent returns and things like that you want to avoid.”

The current pipes carry about 250,000 barrels of oil a day.  After the replacement project, Hodge says about 500,000 barrels of oil per day can be pumped.

Some projects are right next door to residential areas, and Hodge says Enbridge is working to accommodate those homeowners, “We make a big effort to keep flaggers out on the roads to minimize the traffic disruption.  We keep road sweepers out there to clean the mud up.  When we’re working 24/7 at a site like this and there are residents close and we’ll be disturbing their sleeping patterns, we put them up in a hotel for the time that we have lights and loud equipment operating.”

The local economy also benefits.  Enbridge spokeswoman Jennifer Smith says more than $600,000 a week is spent on consumables such as fuel, food and services.

Work on the Line 6B replacement project is expected to wrap up in the middle of next year.

By Renetta DuBose

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