PRAGUE — The daily “scatter sheet” tells the story. The one-page report details how TransCanada is deploying about 850 workers along the Oklahoma portion of its Gulf Coast pipeline.
The 485-mile pipeline is being built in pieces, with construction broken into three spreads to increase efficiency. The longest spread extends about 195 miles from Cushing to the other side of the Texas border.
“It works in an assembly-line fashion,” project spokesman Jim Prescott said.
There are about 30 crews assigned to tasks from locating the company's right of way and erecting fences to lowering in pipe and welding it together.
Crews begin each day at TransCanada's construction yard in Prague before being bused to work sites spread over about 70 miles along the pipeline route.
Trucks move loads of 30-inch pipe from the storage yard at Cushing to where it is needed along the route.
“This is a typical day,” Prescott said. “There's a lot of moving parts.”
Tuesday, one crew was working to tie together two sections of pipe south of Cushing, while another was putting up fences along the right of way in Coal County.
Roger Stogsdill, an assistant chief inspector, said each section of pipe is about 80 feet long.
Crews use a hoe or trenching machine to dig ditches for the underground pipeline, which rests on urethane “pillows” to keep it off the bottom, he said. The pipe also is padded to keep its protective coating from being damaged by rocks when it is buried.
In all, TransCanada is employing about 4,000 workers and spending $2 million a day on construction materials. More money is injected into local economies by workers along the route.
Prescott said TransCanada expects to finish the pipeline by summer, with an eye toward getting it in service in the fourth quarter.
The completed line will transport up to 700,000 barrels of crude oil a day from the storage hub at Cushing to refineries along the Gulf Coast.
The project is part of TransCanada's planned Keystone XL pipeline, which would move crude oil from Canada and North Dakota.
The overall plan was rejected by the Obama administration last year because of concerns about its route through Nebraska's vast Ogallala Aquifer.
The Canadian company opted to move forward with the Gulf Coast portion of the line to help reduce the glut of oil in storage at Cushing.
TransCanada since has submitted a new application for a permit for the proposed transcontinental pipeline.