Before you go to sleep tonight, Americans will have consumed over 700 million gallons of petroleum products today alone. That means pipelines are not going away anytime soon.
Today’s natural gas and crude oil pipeline companies doing business in Louisiana are committed to safe, reliable and environmentally sound pipeline operation.
That means they have to protect the integrity of the infrastructure, quickly respond when there’s an emergency, and educate the public about the systems in and around their community. Pipeline maintenance, including clearing trees and other vegetation around the pipes, is tied to each of these three priorities.
Clearing the ROW
If your pipelines lie near or if they cross private property, your business has easements with those landowners to allow for “ease” of construction and maintenance.These rights-of-way (ROW) are usually corridors kept clear of trees, buildings or other structures. Right-of-way clearing is an ongoing process that promotes the safe and efficient operation of the pipeline.
Above ground, where the pipeline isn’t clear, cattails, bull whip and high grass can make the ROW inaccessible – especially in marshy wetlands areas.
Below ground, trees and other plants are drawn to the warmth and moisture of pipelines. Here we often find thick tangles of root growth around underground pipes. These pipes are coated to protect them against corrosion, and tree root systems will damage these protective outer layers.
The U.S. Department of Transportation requires your company regularly patrol your pipeline ROWs. A properly cleared pipeline ROW means inspectors have a clear path to perform this work. It also provides an easy-to-see guide to the pipeline’s location, which makes aerial inspection possible in some cases.
It’s true that our oil and natural gas pipeline maintenance procedure is a little different in the swamps than it is on dry land. It takes the right tools and experience to do it well. Wetland vegetation that threatens pipeline integrity has to be cleared, or your company can’t guarantee the safety of the people who live nearby. It’s as simple as that.
Emergency Response and Public Awareness
In an emergency, you need direct access to your pipelines. Getting there quickly means you don’t have time to get the trees out of the way first. A reliable pipeline clearing contractor will keep the ROW free of obstacles so your team can perform emergency repairs safely and quickly. Among pipeline maintenance companies in Louisiana, you’ll find Stan’s Airboat and Marsh Excavator Service is the only one who can do this in the remote areas of swamps and marshlands that make up the Gulf Coast.
Educating the community about pipeline operations is a key part of our shared obligation to public safety and environmental protection. Communities want to know about the location of pipelines and about the important role they play. Local schools, churches and businesses need to know how we take steps to prevent spills in environmentally sensitive areas. Farmers need to know we are working to protect the local agriculture.
Local officials and emergency responders are stakeholders as well, as they are our partners in urgent situations. Finally, homeowners and land developers need to know the risks of digging near pipes and other utilities, and a well-maintained ROW is a vital part of showing them where these off-limits areas lie in otherwise overgrown marshes.
A more informed population is your partner in preventing accidents that caused by third-party damage and dangerous encroachments on pipeline ROW. An easy-to-see ROW also reduces the likelihood of unauthorized development and excavation within the ROW.
Third-party digging is the top cause of pipeline damage; that’s why Stan’s is committed to helping you prevent it. A properly-marked pipeline ROW will show the approximate location of the pipes below ground. These markers should contain information identifying the company that operates the pipeline, the product transported, and an emergency phone number.
What should local residents and builders know before they dig? They can call 811 from anywhere in the country to see if any pipelines are in the construction area. (More information about 811 is at www.call811.com.)
Wielding tools from a blowtorch to computer-aided drafting software, pipeline maintenance jobs include field hands and coil tubing operators, project managers and supervisors.
Stan’s has worked pipeline techs, project supervisors and everyone else on teams like yours. We specialize in transporting pipeline maintenance workers to their hard-to-reach job sites, and we specialize in clearing the area using tree saws, drum cutters, tree grubbers and amphibious bush hogs. Our Mini Marsh excavators have the attachments you need to clear your property and ensure the integrity of your operations.