The 16 inch Braemar Linepack Connection connects the Braemar Power station to the Australian Pipeline Trust’s compressor station at Condamine on the Darling Downs in Queensland.

Built in less than six months by Leighton Contractors under an Engineering, Procurement and Construction contract, the pipeline was delivered two months ahead of schedule in March 2006 with no safety or environmental incidents – an outstanding result.

Background

The 87 km DN 400 pipeline will transport natural gas from Australian Pipeline Trust’s Roma-Brisbane (RBP) natural gas pipeline from upstream of the Condamine Compressor Station, to the Braemar Power Station, a peaking power station located southeast of Kogan and south of the RBP. A secondary 3.4 km DN 400 lateral pipeline was also built to transport natural gas to the Braemar Power Station from various alternative sources.

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During periods of low demand, the pipeline will be used as a line-pack gas storage facility. A Custody Transfer Metering Station (CTMS) was designed and constructed at the Condamine end and a manifold was built at Braemar to connect to the multiple gas turbine generating units at the Braemar Power Station.

Safety

Safety on the Braemar Linepack Connection was the responsibility of everyone and there were no Lost Time Injuries in 100,000+ man-hours worked. Employees and sub-contractors alike embraced the Leighton-Safe ethos and the result is a credit to all.

Design and construction

Design commenced with pipeline design consultancy, OSD Energy Services, in Q1 2005 to support front-end and permitting activities, route selection and design of the pipe and station facilities. Clear and grade commenced on 24 August 2005 to ensure the collection of artefacts and environmental controls were appropriately implemented along the route in advance of installation work.

During the initial planning phase, several options were investigated for housing the workforce. Tara was selected as the site for a 140-person camp, which was fabricated and installed ahead of schedule. The camp operated in complete harmony with the local community and the cooperative attitude of the people of Tara, local businesses and the Tara Shire Council were instrumental in achieving a first class result.

East Coast Pipeline & Welding commenced work in early October and averaged a welding production rate of 3 km per day - a great result considering in excess of 400 mm of rain fell during the last three months of 2005.

Numerous roads were traversed along the pipeline route including two State Controlled roads, the main arterials for the local communities. These were bored with casing pipes to minimise disruption to the local community. The pipeline route passed along 38 km of local shire road easements, with the majority of the pipeline safely located just outside the V-drain along the side of the road. An extensive road safety management strategy was undertaken which resulted in some 25 km of temporary road barrier being installed. Planning and attention to detail from the outset paid dividends, with no community incidents along the entirety of the pipeline route.

The DCVG survey was conducted in late December 2006 and returned a 100 per cent result. The right of way reinstatement was completed to a similar standard.

Fabrication of the CTMS piping was subcontracted to Dartbridge Welding. Hurricane Katrina in November disrupted delivery schedules but Dartbridge responded well by adapting their work to ensure the overall schedule was maintained. Fluid Controls of Brisbane kept the pressure on their manufacturing facility and despite a tight delivery schedule, completed the fabrication and testing prior to Christmas 2005.

Installation of the CTMS at Condamine and the manifold at Braemar was completed in January 2006 with Mechanical Completion achieved in early February 2006. First gas was introduced on 7 March 2006, almost 2 months ahead of schedule.

Tara township – community interaction

The project team spent almost six months living in the small regional centre of Tara, which has a population of approximately 1,000. The 140-person strong crew became part of the local community, representing almost 15 per cent of the town’s population. Project staff worked with the emergency services agencies and the local council to assist with the management of the issues directly related to the project and those in the wider community brought on by such a sudden influx of people. Over the course of the project, Leighton Contractors sponsored car rallies, assisted the fire brigade with putting out rural fires, conducted emergency drills, sponsored fireworks displays and generally lived as part of the local community. When you are a visitor to a small town, you may not know who everyone is, but everyone sure knows who you are!

Cultural Heritage

Environmental and Cultural Heritage management was led by Leighton Contractors’ Environmental Management team, and by working together, a fantastic result was achieved for all concerned.

The cultural consultation for the project, led by Leighton’s Environment and Cultural Heritage Manager, Colin Lane, was undertaken with three family groups representing two Aboriginal tribal groups, the Western Wakka Wakka and the Barunggam people.

During the pre-construction survey, some 753 artefacts were photographed, recorded by GPS, measured and entered onto a database for the Department of Natural Resources & Mines (DNRM) to enter onto their Cultural Heritage Register and database.

Every effort was made to include participants and build confidence, trust and capacity as well as develop cross-cultural awareness for site personnel and other project stakeholders through aboriginal inductions, which were undertaken with the assistance of family elders.

During the construction phase in the initial clear and grade process, monitors located, recorded, photographed and removed an additional 439 artefacts to safe locations. At the conclusion of the clear and grade, monitors also checked access tracks for artefacts before they were graded. The completed records of artefacts located were forwarded to the Cultural Heritage Unit of DNRM in Brisbane for inclusion onto their register and database system. As the cultural heritage management came to an end, the monitors were involved in the assessment of environmental issues related to taking water from a creek system for hydrotesting. The monitors advised the Toowoomba office of DNRM and Leighton of concerns they had in relation to the use of water and those comments were worked into a management strategy overseen by DNRM as part of their Water Use permit for the project.

Records of fauna removed from the trench were kept along with photographs that have been collated and forwarded to Aboriginal groups as a resource for school talks and for general knowledge to assist in the interpretation of the fauna as traditional totemic values.

A key factor in the success of cultural heritage was the flexible attitude of all project people involved; from the site supervisors and managers to the construction crews and administration, all of these people were educated in and displayed an awareness of the different cultural perspectives in effect. A lessons learnt review was conducted which identified success areas, such as employment of local indigenous people for work on their traditional lands, through to ideas to streamline communications with various government departments.

Environment

Statutory obligations required everyone to be vigilant and to record all actions that may result in an environmental impact, and it was the attention to detail and the persistence to achieve results that really made the difference between managing and achieving.

The project presented some interesting environmental management challenges. After six years of low rainfall and local predictions of 20 mm throughout spring, the first rain that fell literally washed that premise away, with 47 mm overnight making access across paddocks and tracks impassable. Throughout the project the rain continued, with a record 400 mm being recorded as the final tally for rain between late August 2005 and early January 2006. Throughout this period the pipeline and alignment coped very well under the deluge.

Awareness and training formed a large part of the site induction process to ensure the message was both delivered and understood. Construction crews were involved in the reasoning behind environmental decisions, which gave them the opportunity to value add to concepts such as using vegetation as sediment controls on drainage lines, forming up berms where the soils were highly dispersible and so on. All of this had the net effect of raising the overall awareness of environmental initiatives during the life of the project. It was great to see an understanding of environmental awareness not only evolve, but contribute to many aspects of a practical and relevant nature which assisted in delivering a high standard of environmental outcomes.

The increase in environmental awareness was evident in many respects throughout the life of the project, with one particular occurrence involving the Federally protected, vulnerable flora species, Philotheca sporadica. This protected species was cleared under permit, only to be rediscovered growing afresh after spring rains stimulated growth. The fact that an excavator driver and his offsider not only stopped to investigate a 10 mm shoot on the alignment, but they had absorbed enough information to correctly identify the plant and then report it to site personnel was rewarding for all involved.

GIS System

Quality Assurance was a primary issue during the early planning for the project. It was agreed with the client, Braemar Power Project Pty Ltd, that a fully populated GIS database would be the final result for the capture of all Quality Assurance documentation. The biggest challenge was the medium of capturing data in an effective and timely manner for easy transfer into the GIS database.

The GIS consultant for the project, Hayden McDonald from Mipela, introduced the Epic Energy system to the project and it was embraced by all from day one. From a Project Management perspective, the capture and storage of data in the GIS database was a total solution with instant full traceability all the way back to the steel coil.

The most enduring feature of the GIS database is that it is limited only by one’s imagination. The information can be stored and accessed anywhere via the internet, which has untold uses and flexibility for end-users, the operator of the pipeline or other interested parties.