Pipelines

Solving the most challenging earth science & geo-engineering problems facing the pipeline industry

The design, construction, and operation of pipelines require innovative strategies and sound management practices for successful implementation. BGC partners with pipeline companies from around the world to manage geohazard risk throughout the pipeline lifecycle. This includes continual management of geohazard programs with office and field-based inspections, onsite geotechnical support during pipeline construction, and proactive decisions about geohazard threats.

Geohazards Management Programs

Our goal by 2025 is a 10% reduction of the global risk of pipeline incidents and failures caused by geohazards from 2015 levels. To achieve this, BGC is dedicated to helping our clients efficiently identify, evaluate, and mitigate hydrotechnical and geotechnical hazards on projects worldwide. This is done by leveraging BGC’s Cambio software platform and our expert knowledge in geology, geohazards, and pipeline practices to create geohazard management programs.

Cambio is a custom suite of earth sciences software that has been developed over the past 20 years to support pipeline operators with their integrity management programs. Cambio is the world’s most comprehensive pipeline geohazards database, comprising 5,000,000 kilometer-years of data. With Cambio, pipeline operators can proactively manage their geohazard management programs, plan for inspections or mitigations, and allocate resources using risk-informed decision-making. All of this is in a secure, cloud-hosted system that can be accessed from the office or in the field, and in a defensible and documented framework that is auditable and easily communicable to regulators and senior management.   

Cambio integrates multiple data sources including the River Network Tools™ (RNT), lidar and lidar change detection, InSAR, IMU bending strain features, and landslide susceptibility mapping to create a comprehensive view of potential threats. In addition, Cambio provides near real-time flood, rainfall, and earthquake monitoring with an integrated alert system, so that operators can quickly respond to changing conditions. Our geohazard management programs are currently active on over 440,000 km of operating and discontinued pipelines in North and South America. On pipelines where the full geohazard lifecycle has been applied (from inventory through to assessment and management), BGC has measured a 3 to 4 times reduction in pipeline failures caused by geohazards compared to the average North American failure rate. 

Routing, Geohazard Characterization, & Design

BGC’s experts assist clients with pipeline routing and geohazard characterization to avoid geohazards where practical, and if unavoidable, we provide engineering solutions to manage risk to infrastructure and environmentally sensitive areas. BGC has experience providing geohazard support for new pipeline projects in varied environments, including prairies/plains, mountainous, sub-arctic, high precipitation, and arid environments.

Our geotechnical services provided to pipeline clients starts with early routing through detailed design and include: 

  • Terrain mapping & geohazard identification
  • Soil delineation, including organics for buoyancy control and soil spring constants
  • Bedrock characterization for excavatability and potential of acid rock drainage (ARD) and metal leaching (ML)
  • Permafrost delineation and characterization
  • Onshore and offshore geotechnical investigations
  • Geohazard risk assessment and erosion control
  • Detailed geotechnical feasibility assessments for HDDs and other trenchless crossings
  • Seismic liquefaction/lateral spreading assessments, fault crossing evaluations, and seismic slope stability assessments
  • Watercourse crossing evaluation and design
  • Slope and cut/fill stability design
  • Shallow, deep, and anchored foundation designs.
Site Specific Support

BGC is a global leader in geohazard management and provides detailed site support both from the office and in the field utilizing the diverse expertise of our international team. As climate change continues to impact flood frequencies and other climate statistics, BGC has helped our clients by providing timely, practical solutions in response to unforeseen weather emergencies. BGC provides year-round hydrotechnical and geotechnical mitigation design support both for routine mitigations and in response to emergent conditions.  

Hydrotechnical Analysis & Mitigation Design

Where riverbed scour or lateral channel migration has resulted or could result in pipeline exposures, instream measures such as riverbed and bank armouring or river training structures may be effective solutions for mitigating the geohazard and bringing the pipeline back into regulatory compliance. BGC can help to assess the feasibility of instream mitigation measures compared to alternative measures such as HDD or open-cut replacement, as well as lead these projects from concept development to detailed design and construction. BGC has contributed to numerous hydrotechnical mitigation design projects by conducting: 

  • Depth of cover surveys with scour potential analysis
  • Channel migration, bank erosion, and encroachment assessments
  • Hydrologic and hydraulic analysis and modelling
  • Flow failure displacement assessments of riverbanks related to seismic events
  • Debris flow and debris flood hazard assessments
  • Support during the acquirement of regulatory approvals
  • Channel stabilization and mitigation designs, from conceptual options to detailed designs
  • Technical support during construction
Geotechnical Analysis & Mitigation Design

Ground movement or surface water erosion can expose and/or impact a pipeline. BGC analyses the site-specific conditions and then in partnership with our clients comes up with practical solutions including issued for-construction (IFC) designs allowing operators to mitigate or reroute pipelines exposed to landslides, rockfalls, and other geotechnical hazards. BGC can provide support for our pipeline clients by providing: 

  • Geotechnical drilling supervision, including soil logging, potential slip plane identification, and instrumentation installation
  • Forensic review of geohazard failures, including landslide and deformation assessments
  • Slope stability modeling and slope support designs: shear keys, toe berms, and soil anchors
  • Trenchless and trenched crossing design and support
  • Rock fall and debris flow barrier design
  • Pipeline stress reliefs and corrosion/anomaly digs
  • On-site supervision and support during construction
Understanding Geohazard Pipeline Strains

BGC is an industry leader in integrating IMU bending strains and other in-line inspection (ILI) data into geohazard assessments, annually reviewing more than 20,000 km (12,000 mi) of IMU data for geohazard signatures. Integrating geohazard movement data with an understanding of pipeline responses to soil-pipe interaction loads allows BGC to more reliably identify when a pipeline is being impacted by a geohazard; this serves to focus resources on affected sites and allows for informed site monitoring using data that operators are already collecting. 

Depending on the severity of hazard impact (measured strain) or an operator’s sensitivity at a particular site, a subsequent pipeline stress analysis (PSA) may be warranted. PSAs are used to assess the interaction between the ground and the pipeline, allowing for an estimation of the strain state of a pipeline and the magnitude of ground displacement that would produce a critical strain. It is therefore critical that the PSA be calibrated to realistic site conditions before it is used to drive key decisions. These site conditions include defining soil spring constants and their extents, defining a ground displacement profile, and if applicable, recreating the existing IMU bending strains. BGC collaborates with PSA specialists to enable strain-based geohazard management plans at more than ten critical sites annually.

Supporting Pipeline Construction

Construction of new pipelines often occurs in complex geologic environments with challenging soil conditions, in the presence of geohazards, and in unforgiving terrain. BGC has experience providing construction support services to owners and prime contractors to keep projects moving forward.  

Some of BGC’s construction support services include: 

  • Trenchless crossing support (HD-Bore, Auger Bore, Direct Pipe, HDD)
  • Cut-slope assistance and fill placement assessment.
  • Acid rock drainage (ARD) and metal leaching (ML) management 
  • On-site geohazard design and support as site conditions during construction evolve.
  • Slope drainage and erosion control 
  • Implementation of geohazard mitigation measures and slope restoration
  • Organic soil delineation and construction soil verification
  • Access road construction monitoring and materials sourcing
  • Facility foundation construction assessment and monitoring
  • Post-construction geohazard inventory development

Key Contacts

Pete Barlow

Pete Barlow

Principal Geotechnical Engineer

Alex Baumgard

Alex Baumgard

Principal Geotechnical Engineer, Emergency Response Team Lead

Michael Porter

Michael Porter

Principal Geological Engineer

Hamid Karimian

Hamid Karimian

Principal Geotechnical Engineer

Beth Widmann

Beth Widmann

Principal Geologist

Casey Dowling

Casey Dowling

Senior Geological Engineer

Chris Campbell

Chris Campbell

Senior Geotechnical Engineer

Joel Van Hove

Joel Van Hove

Senior Geotechnical Engineer, Pipelines Team Lead

Sarah Newton

Sarah Newton

Senior Geological Engineer, Cambio Product Lead

Mark Zellman

Mark Zellman

Senior Geologist

Luc Toussaint

Luc Toussaint

Senior Geotechnical Engineer

Jeremy Groves

Jeremy Groves

Senior Geotechnical Engineer

Sarah Davidson

Sarah Davidson

Senior Geoscientist

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