World-Record Trinidad HDD Installation

An undersea pipeline design took horizontal directional drilling to new lengths.

GeoEngineers provided expert horizontal directional drilling (HDD) design and construction consulting services for a shore approach installation of a crude oil export pipeline off the southeastern coast of Trinidad. The New Oil Export Line (NOEL) project called for a 30-inch-diameter pipeline coated with 1.85 inches of concrete installed under the sea floor. The combination of a large pipe diameter, concrete coating and long distance of 5,780 feet made the NOEL HDD shore approach installation a world record.


The NOEL project featured a long HDD crossing with the added challenge of a heavier-than-normal, rigid, concrete-coated pipe. The GeoEngineers design team analyzed where drilling would start and end, how much force HDD construction equipment could bear and how well the pipe would curve when pulled back through the hole under the sea floor.

GeoEngineers documented HDD construction contractor actions during drilling of the initial 12-inch hole underground, enlarging of the hole and pulling the pipe through the hole from the offshore exit location to the onshore drilling entry site.

The HDD installation required significant project coordination within the BP Trinidad and Tobago (BPTT) facility and between onshore, offshore and HDD construction contractors.


  • GeoEngineers observed and documented the first HDD construction attempt of NOEL in 2005, saving BPTT approximately $1 million in contractor claims.
  • Successfully completed the 2006 NOEL project on budget
  • GeoEngineers’ HDD design overcame geologic challenges, including rock outcroppings, a drop-off in elevation, and a reef that made laying pipe on the sea floor difficult.
  • The project team safely addressed HDD construction-site hazards such as five oil storage tanks and two natural gas flares nearby, as well as ocean surges, strong undercurrents and large waves.
  • Using the HDD method helped reduce the pipeline’s environmental impact by minimizing disruption to the local fishing industry, limiting effects on a nearby nature preserve and increasing the integrity of the pipeline system.
  • With the NOEL HDD completed, the Galeota Point Storage Terminal can boost oil exports and reduce the time tankers are moored, thereby increasing profitability.

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