Olsson Associates


Olsson's flexibility a fine fit for Tallgrass Energy’s pipeline conversion, expansion

Friday, September 13, 2013

Dana Mack, PMP, Environmenal Assessment, and Jeff McPeak, PE, Compliance and Remediation

When Tallgrass Energy decided to convert its 430-mile Pony Express natural gas pipeline to crude oil and extend the line an additional 260 miles, Olsson provided a flexible, fast-moving group of engineers, scientists, environmental inspectors, and support staff members to quickly adapt to Tallgrass Energy’s needs.

Tallgrass Energy is a family of companies formed to own, operate, acquire, and develop midstream energy assets in North America. The Pony Express pipeline is currently a natural gas pipeline that originates in Wyoming, runs through Colorado and Nebraska, and terminates in Lincoln, Kansas. Olsson is helping Tallgrass Energy convert the existing pipeline from natural gas to crude oil and construct a pipeline extension from Lincoln, Kansas, to Cushing, Oklahoma. To date, Olsson has provided a broad range of staffing expertise that includes environmental engineers, biologists, wildlife specialists, cultural resource specialists, stormwater inspectors, and environmental scientists.

Pipeline Conversion
As part of the conversion process, approximately 175 sites along the pipeline require pipe replacement, and nearly 400 sites need regrading. Olsson is providing environmental resource reviews for replacing and regrading sites.

The environmental resource review process includes desktop reviews for threatened and endangered species, wetlands evaluations, and cultural resource reviews. After evaluations are completed, environmental clearance letters are developed to provide guidance to the pipeline construction contractors and to the environmental inspectors. The project began in July, and, as of early September, nearly all replacement site clearance letters have been issued. Desktop evaluations and clearance letter production will continue into the fourth quarter of 2013.

Pipeline Extension

Boring for pipelineAs part of the pipeline extension project, Olsson is providing services for two key aspects of the project: baseline water sampling and environmental inspections. 

Along the new 260-mile lateral, water sampling has been performed to obtain baseline data for groundwater wells adjacent to the proposed pipeline. Nearly 1,000 landowners are located along the new pipeline alignment. Olsson determined which landowners had water wells within 200 feet of the pipeline, worked with landowners to collect water samples, provided laboratory results to landowners, and created a master database of sampling data.

New Technology For Pre-construction Documentation
The largest portions of Olsson’s work on the pipeline expansion are the pre-construction environmental documentation and the environmental inspections for the two spreads of the pipeline. As part of the preconstruction documentation, Olsson accessed all parcels of land along the proposed pipeline and documented existing conditions using a new technology that allowed staff members to integrate site photographs, GIS data, and meta-data associated with the photograph. This innovative software is used via tablet devices. Field data is uploaded in real time to a cloud-based online data room for project personnel and the client to review.

Expedited Pipeline Installation
To expedite the construction process, the proposed 260-mile expansion was broken into two sections, a north spread and a south spread. Olsson is providing two crews of environmental inspectors, one for each spread, during the pipe’s installation. Olsson crews are performing stormwater and erosion control inspections, as well as daily evaluations of environmentally sensitive areas, to ensure that best practices are followed regarding threatened and endangered species, wetlands, and cultural resources.

The Pony Express pipeline conversion and expansion is a fast-moving project that requires services on a tight timeline. Olsson has been nimble in adjusting and refining services as the project has progressed.

Tallgrass is a new, fast-paced company with a wide range of environmental services needs. If you have questions about how Olsson might be a good fit for your company’s needs, feel free to contact Dana Mack at 303.237.2072 ordmack@olssonassociates.com, or Jeff McPeak at 402.474.6311 or jmcpeak@olssonassociates.com.

Dana Mack has 15 years of experience as an environmental scientist and project manager. She has a depth of experience in environmental compliance and remediation for both commercial and government clients. She is a registered Project Management Professional.

Jeff McPeak has 10 years of experience in environmental projects and is a team leader for Olsson's Environmental teams in Lincoln, Holdrege, and Mullen, Nebraska. He serves as a project manager and client manager for a wide range of environmental projects related to industry, energy, agriculture, development, and government clients.



Connect with us