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The basics of pipeline construction in Australia

The construction of a pipeline is a process that involves numerous stages of organised and coordinated activities that are in place to develop a functional pipeline system. Once the pipeline system is assembled, any pipeline construction in Australia needs to be inspected, tested and commissioned using well-established procedures.

Key construction activities include:

  • Preparations & clearing
  • Trenching for below ground pipelines
  • Erection of supports for above ground pipelines
  • Welding the pipeline segments
  • Assembly of the pipeline system – valves, compression/pumping station

Preparations & clearing

The first step of the construction of a pipeline is preparing the Right of Way, which is the path that the pipeline will be routed. The procedures that are used for Right of Way preparations will vary when taking into account factors such as terrain, whether the pipeline system will be above or below ground and any bodies of water along the route.

The construction area is then cleared of trees and brush, with permanent Right of Way routes for the pipeline system being established, as well as temporary workspace boundaries. Grading equipment such as bulldozers and graders will be brought in to level the surface of the work area.

Trenching for below ground pipelines

The next step is trenching, if the pipeline system is to be below grade. Rocky areas will need to be drilled and/or blasted. For changes in direction of the piping system, bending is required and will typically be accomplished by hydraulic cold bending machines. Bending will need to be performed in such as way as to not exceed maximum curvature limits, and should be free from dents and wrinkles.

Welding pipeline segments

Pipes are typically supplied in 12m segments; consequently they will need to be joined together by welding. The most common processes used in pipeline applications are Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) or Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW).

Lowering of the piping system

The pipeline system is then to be lowered into the trench by various equipment and machines working together. During lowering, the primary objective is to do so without incurring damage. Precautions such as the use of sandbags and padding and non-abrasive cradling belts may be used.

Testing, back filling and commissioning the pipeline system

Prior to the operation of the pipeline, the system consisting of the pipeline, valves, fittings and instruments must be completely assembled. For any commissioning of a pipeline construction in Australia, the pipeline system must be thoroughly tested, with welds being subjected to the Non-Destructive Testing.

The commissioning process is the check of facilities and functions to ensure they are capable of transporting volumes of various fluids and preparing the facilities to perform their required function.

Construction Equipment

Pipeline construction in Australia involves the use of a variety of construction equipment. Here is a list of some of the equipment used in the construction of a pipeline:

  • Pipe carriers & layers
  • Welding tractors, packages & machines
  • Pipe bending machines
  • Boring machines
  • Pipe lifting equipment
  • Pipe testing equipment
  • Bevelling machines
  • Wheel loaders
  • Excavators
  • Cranes
  • Trenchers

AWD Civil are the experts in pipeline construction in Australia, managing and planning many pipeline system projects in Queensland. If you have a project that needs doing contact our team at 07 3200 5766.

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