Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Strength Is Half The Story

With PipeDefender®

Featured in World Pipelines February 2024 as Progress In Pipeline Protection

By Meghan Connors, President of PipeSak

The backstory of the latest pipeline protection solution, PipeDefender®, with case study outlines including one from the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and Joliet Header.


PipeDefender Engineered Pipeline Lagging


With a growing emphasis on pipeline integrity, we are always looking for better methods to protect their pipelines and how to protect anti-corrosion coatings, especially in harsh environments where standard rockshields are not enough.

A 48 in. OD pipeline under crossed three hotlines that needed to be protected in multiple locations. Both the owning company and contractor expressed concerns about wood lagging – it was cumbersome, expensive, and unreliable.


Installation of PipeDefender by only two labourers on NPS24 pipe


As it turned out, Geoff Connors, P. Eng, the founder of PipeSak, had already been working on a design to be cost effective and, most importantly, engineered to withstand severe impacts. PipeSak ended up with two field trials on that project and the concept of PipeDefender® engineered pipeline lagging (EPL) became a reality!

By 2023, after successfully protecting pipelines in some of the most extreme construction conditions in North America, PipeDefender® engineered pipeline lagging system won the International Pipe Line Offshower COntractor Association New Technology Award for its significant contribution to innovation in pipeline construction.

International Pipe Line and Offshore Contractor Association (IPLOCA) New Technology Award

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Trans Mountain Expansion

36 in. (914 mm) – British Columbia (Canada)


With the use of PipeDefender® EPL, the contractor was able to receive all required products within days and did not have to modify any bedding specifications for this difficult terrain

A 715 mile long (1150 km) pipeline built through the Canadian Rocky Mountains, has utilised PipeDefender® EPL due to the inherently rugged conditions encountered along the route. An example where PipeDefender® greatly assisted a contractor was on Spread 5B, a section of the 36 in. (814 mm) OD pipeline that is being constructed near Vancouver.

A specific section required buoyancy control and mechanical protection from the large rocks present in the area, as well as the rip rap that was to be utilised to stabilise the steep slope the pipeline traversed.

The contractor initially chose to utilise a geotextile wrapping, which could be filled with concrete to provide buoyancy control where specified, as well as mechanical protection from rocks in the area. After experiencing significant supply issues, an alternate solution was needed to finish and protect the pipe from rock impact and denting issues from below.


PipeDefender® Installed on Sloped Section of Pipe on the 36” Trans Mountain Expansion Project


PipeDefender installed on Sloped Section of Pipe on the 36” Trans Mountain Expansion Project


Multiple 30˚ bends were accommodated with PipeDefender® engineered pipeline lagging, with quick and easy installation making up for lost time, while the use of PipeDefender® EPL continues to provide innovations for logistics, installation and performance on this large Canadian project.

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Joliet Header

16 in. (406 mm) – Illinois (USA)


PipeDefender® engineered pipeline lagging was successful in protecting the pipe from abrasion and gouging along the section and stayed in position while being pushed through the bore.

In Joliet Illinois, a 16 in. (406 mm) OD pipe was to be installed which would supply natural gas to a nearby power plant. A section of pipe was to be bored under a railway. The 150 ft (50 m) section was bored through an area of fractured flagstone. In this situation, the casing pipe was to be removed from the bore and the anulus between the stone and the pipeline filled with lightweight concrete.

Due to the abrasion concerns that would be inevitable when pushing the pipe through the rock bore, the contractor required a means to better protect the pipe as opposed to using more traditional methods.

The contractor opted to use PipeDefender® to separate the pipe from the fractured rock bore to ensure continuous protection and imposed stresses while the pipe was being pushed through. The contractor feared traditional separators may collapse during the pushing process. After the 24 in. (610 mm) diameter bore pipe was fully pushed through, a reducer was installed to connect the smaller pipe.


PipeDefender being installed


PipeDefender® was installed over intermittent sections of stranded-style rock shield to provide frictional resistance and had twice the number of bands typically installed to ensure enough friction was being applied between the pipe and PipeDefender® to prevent slippage.

The profile of PipeDefender® also allowed for the cement fill an easy path through the bore once the pipe was installed.

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Engineered Pipeline Lagging Solutions – Additional Applications

Like most protection products developed by PipeSak, once PipeDefender® engineered pipeline lagging protection system started to gain traction in the field, the ingenuity of pipeline contractors took over – and new uses emerged. PipeDefender® engineered pipeline lagging has been successfully utilised for the following applications:

  • Protecting pipelines against mechanical damage from equipment, such as protecting foreign pipelines during undercrossing installation.
  • Permanent mechanical protection for pipelines in areas of risk such as ditch under crossings, steep slopes, underground station piping and more.
  • To electronically isolate pipelines when installed in cased crossings.
  • Protecting pipelines during rock bores.

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horizontal directional drilling

Many clients have requested PipeDefender® to protect pipelines during horizontal directional drilling (HDD). HDD is a trenchless method of installing underground pipelines in a shallow arc along a bore path by using a surface-launched drilling rig, with minimal impact on the surrounding area. Although HDD is a valuable pipeline installation approach in many scenarios, long-term maintenance on HDD pipeline installations can be more expensive and complex because the pipeline is deeper and less accessible than it would be in a shallow trench.

Utilising PipeDefender® for HDD pipelines will ensure the pipe is protected both during installation and for the life of the pipeline. Watch for a new lower profile, more flexible version of PipeDefender® engineered pipeline lagging has been specifically designed for HDD pipe protection to be released later this year.

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