Delivering More Natural Gas Capacity to Oregon’s Willamette Valley

GeoEngineers is providing a full suite of services for Northwest Natural’s Mid-Willamette Valley Feeder project. The company’s ambitious natural gas pipeline improvements will increase capacity of a major pipeline by 25 percent to serve the energy needs of the rapidly growing population of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Stretching 150 miles south from Portland to Eugene, this scenic region is known for lush agricultural lands and award-winning vineyards, and also encompasses the state’s largest population centers.

The Mid-Willamette Valley Feeder project was the cover story of the autumn 2012 issue of Underground Utilities magazine. The article describes the geological characteristics that GeoEngineers’ studies revealed and details the pipeline installation techniques being employed for each stage of the project.

Led by Pipeline Group Manager and Principal Engineer Trevor Hoyles, PE, LEG (Salt Lake City, UT) and Project Manager and Senior Geologist Brian Ranney, RG, CEG, LG, LEG (Portland, OR), a team of specialists from GeoEngineers’ Portland office have provided geologic hazard assessments, pipeline routing support, HDD design and feasibility, erosion-control plans and permitting services. CAD Technician Ben Lane (Springfield, MO) has generated all of the AutoCAD® drawings for the project and assisted with HDD design support. Staff from the Spokane and Redmond (WA) offices and the Springfield (MO) office also assisted during the subsurface exploration phase.

In addition to the geologic hazard studies, routing support and HDD feasibility services the team completed at the start of the project, they have contributed their expertise to every segment of the pipeline. Their work has included subsurface investigations, lab testing, and wetland- and erosion-control plan development. For the Perrydale segment, they also provided Polk County flood plain permitting support.

For the final Willamette crossing segment now in progress, GeoEngineers’ team is designing three HDD crossings of Highway 20, existing rock quarries and the Willamette River. When all is said and done, the improved pipeline will include 32 Geo-Engineers-designed HDD crossings under roadways, railroads, streams, rivers and wetlands.

The Mid-Willamette Valley Feeder project began in 2009 and will wrap up in 2013. Reflecting on its challenges and successes to date, Brain Ranney said, “It has been a pleasure working with NW Natural and other members of the design team to solve challenging pipeline installation problems where the pipeline crosses culturally and environmentally sensitive areas as well as to use the HDD method of construction to lessen the impact to the environment and landowners along the alignment. To date, approximately 15 miles of pipeline have been installed, including 14 HDD segments ranging from 675 feet to 5,500 feet in length. I have a great sense of satisfaction knowing that GeoEngineers was instrumental in helping NW Natural achieve their pipeline installation goals thus far.”

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