Murphy Pipe and Civil Operations Manager William Weaver said the last string of steel pipeline has been successfully installed in early September this year after crews made a fast-paced construction run to the finish line.
The project for Chinese-owned MCC consisted of three 30 km steel pipelines ranging in diameter from 750-1,200 mm, 60 km of which was high-density polyethylene (HDPE)-lined, as well as associated infrastructure works.
Mr Weaver said the company’s 340-strong work crew was determined to meet the client’s September deadline despite being faced with a number of challenges during the five-month project.
“While extreme weather conditions were well and truly factored into our work schedule, I think we bore the brunt of everything the Pilbara could possibly throw at us during the project,” he said.
“In the first two months, our crews had to deal with a combination of cyclones, torrential downpours and extreme heat, which called for equally extreme safety and construction management measures to ensure we stayed on track.
“Fortunately, the last few months of the project provided more traditional Pilbara winter conditions which enabled our weld and lay crews to increase their pace and also allowed our subcontractor, United Pipeline Systems, to follow closely with their HDPE lining crews to further decrease the lost time gap.
“Working from dawn to dusk each day can take its toll on a workforce, but our crews stepped up to the plate and ensured the project was completed on time and to budget,” Mr Weaver said.
Apart from crew performance, Mr Weaver said he was also pleased with the close working relationship shared with MCC that had enabled Murphy Pipe and Civil to deliver on its project commitments.
“This is the second project we have delivered for MCC, after completing the company’s 17 km, 750-1,000 mm steel-flanged tailings return pipeline late last year,” he said. “In the initial stages, both companies had to overcome a few language and cultural barriers, but I am pleased to say that in the end we all agreed the international language of “˜getting the job done’ would ensure we all reached our agreed project outcomes.”
Positive environmental management
Mr Weaver said one of the many positive outcomes of the project was the committed focus both companies had regarding the responsible management of the environment during pipeline construction.
“From the outset, MCC and Murphy Pipe and Civil agreed that appropriate measures had to be put in place to ensure construction activities did not adversely impact on the natural wildlife found across the Pilbara.”
As part of its environmental planning, Murphy Pipe and Civil engaged NatureCall, one of Australia’s foremost wildlife management agencies, to carry out an intensive trench monitoring program throughout the course of the project.
“Unfortunately, the 30 km open pipeline trench presented a very real risk to animals living within the project area, so it was critical that we had an experienced team of fauna managers on board to safely manage any wildlife that may have become trapped,” said Mr Weaver.
“Thanks to the monitoring program, more than 320 native animals were safely rescued and released back into the Pilbara as a result of the regular trench monitoring carried out and the implementation of proven rescue measures.”
Where possible, Murphy Pipe and Civil installed fauna ladders to provide animals with escape points, in addition to erecting fencing and refuges where trapped animals could safely wait for rescue by the NatureCall handlers.
“This type of positive environmental management provided the project with double-edged benefits as trapped animals could be safely released back into the wild and our construction crews could safely work in the trench without potentially encountering venomous reptiles,” said Mr Weaver.
NatureCall Project Manager Matt Cecil hailed the environmental monitoring program an outstanding success for all project stakeholders – including the Pilbara wildlife.
“Apart from our fauna teams being able to safely relocate a variety of reptiles, birds and bats, they were also able to compile important habitat data so that environmental agencies could gain a better understanding of animal movements,” he said.
“Our team of 11 handlers rescued tiny blind snakes and geckoes right up to the Perentie – the largest monitor species in Australia.
“Some animals were a real pleasure to handle, while others need skilled management – but overall the team was happy knowing that the monitoring program and the work carried out delivered positive environmental outcomes,” added Mr Cecil.
With construction on the Sino project now complete, Murphy Pipe and Civil’s key project personnel will re-deploy to Queensland’s Surat Basin to start work on a series of CSG pipeline projects.