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October 31, 2017 / Fari Mahdavi
Category: APGA 

YPF Tour Trip Report Part Two: Northern Gas Pipeline

On the morning of September 15, all participants in the YPF site visit gathered in the lobby of Hotel Isa where we enjoyed a sandwich and fruit breakfast. We departed Hotel Isa at 6 am for Camp KP 530, where a temporary home is set up for the construction crews working on the pipeline. Camp KP 530 is about two hours’ drive from Mt. Isa, which gave the YPF participants more time to interact and get to know each other.

On arrival at the camp, we had morning coffee and biscuits while given the necessary visitors induction and safety talks. 

During the morning talks we were also given background information on the Indjalanji-Dhidhanu native title area through which the pipeline is being constructed. We were shown carefully documented artifacts recovered from the site during construction, which are to be stored in heritage museums for preservation.

This was followed by a tour of the camp taking the group through the narrow alleys of the living quarters, the vast kitchen and dining areas, waste management and, surprisingly, a fully equipped gym and fitness facility. 

After being acquainted with the camp, we headed to the construction site where we stopped at every individual crew working on a different subdivision of what is essentially the pipeline assembly line.

The tour began at the end of the assembly line where the completed pipelines were ready to be lowered from their wooden skids into trenches being dug by excavators. Paul Bilston (Jemena), Dave Maloney (CNC Project Management), Richard Henderson (Denso) and Tom Fuller (Spiecapag) took turns explaining the various subdivisions of the pipeline construction sites we stopped at and answered the many questions the YPF visitors had about the project.

Coatings are applied to welded sections of the pipe before being thoroughly inspected with the appropriate non-destructive testing (NDT) methods, which was the next section of the construction line we visited. 

From the NDT station we made our way to the portable welding units where crews used cranes to lift pipe segments from the ground and clamped adjoining pipe segments with an internal clamping system to ensure proper fit-up of pipe edges.

Once fit-up is complete, the first welding unit deposits the root beads at the clamped pipe segments, followed by the unit who does the filler (hot pass) and capping passes to complete the welding process. Manual metal arc welding (MMAW) is carried out under the portable gazebo, held in place by another crane.

All attendees admired the way in which the teams from each subdivision worked effectively and efficiently to ensure a constant flow on the construction project. Work was conducted in such a way that no delays were created for any subsequent teams and work continued seamlessly and fast-paced. 

At the next stop in the construction line, we observed the pipe segments being lowered from delivery trucks using hydraulic cranes and put in place for the fit-up teams to prepare for welding.

The final stop on our way back to Mt. Isa was made where the site was being prepared by scraping a level path for the pipeline construction to follow. We walked through an area where deeper excavation was necessary as the pipeline would run underneath a natural creek once the wet season sets in.

In closing, we would like to thank APGA, APA Group, Jemena, CNC Project Management and Spiecapag for providing such an invaluable experience. This site visit certainly adds value to the knowledge of young Australian pipeliners who attended. It was a day filled with many opportunities to learn and understand the finer details of pipeline construction. We also want to thank the APGA YPF for making this opportunity available to us. 

Many thanks to Fari Mahdavi (EPCRC) and Cornelis Van Niekerk (UOW) for preparing this detailed trip report.

YPF Group Shot

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