Earth Day Awards: Utah Board Of Oil, Gas And Mining Honors Five Companies

July 2012, Vol. 239 No. 7

Utah Governor Gary Herbert recently presented the 2012 Utah Board of Oil, Gas and Mining Earth Day Awards to Questar Pipeline Company, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Canyon Fuel Company’s Skyline Mine, Simplot Phosphates, and Western Clay Company. Each of these companies, through various projects, has exceeded regulatory requirements to protect or restore the environment during their operations.

The Earth Day Award to Questar Pipeline Company was for the visual mitigation on the Green River crossing on the company’s 2011 ML 104 extension project. The project was a 24.70-mile final extension of the company’s 24-inch diameter Mainline 104 back to the gas processing hub near Fidlar Station in eastern Utah. The project was constructed in summer/fall of 2011 by Snelson Companies.

While installing the new natural gas transmission pipeline in Uintah County, Questar Pipeline went to extraordinary lengths to preserve the scenic characteristics along the Lower Green River Corridor. The company’s attention to the route selected, as well as construction techniques maintained the existing character of the landscape that is illustrated in the accompanying photos.

Snelson Companies was charged with building the 25 miles of 24-inch diameter pipeline from the Green River block valve to Fidlar compressor station. Once the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) provided final approvals for the project, Snelson had their crews ready to roll.
Permits in hand, the crews traveled as far as two and a half hours from the warehouse for a punishing right-of-way (ROW) that was exclusively rock. Four rock saws and 10 hammer point hoes were needed to carve out the ROW and ditch for the new line. Unforgiving rock fatigued and cracked metal, gouged tires, impaled windshields and generally provided an uncomfortable ride for anyone traversing it. Seven full time mechanics were needed to keep the equipment in good repair for this pipeline construction project.

Almost as punishing as the rock was the weather. It flooded access roads including State Highway 88 and the ROW, rendering many days marginally productive or altogether unworkable. With the wet weather came a scourge of mosquitoes that were as ravenous as piranhas. Their bites made head nets a hot commodity and the gear quickly sold out in town.

Despite the many hurdles, Snelson Superintendent John Kennedy said crews were able to bring the pipeline project to a successful completion. Over the course of the project, crews logged 250,000 worker hours that resulted in 25 miles of 24-inch pipeline, four bores totaling 370 lineal feet, and one horizontal directional drill that stretched nearly 1/4 of a mile under the Green River. With final tie-ins and clean up done by late October, Snelson reclaimed the ROW so completely that it was hard to tell a pipeline had been installed.

Anadarko was honored for the steps taken to decrease land disturbance during drilling operations by the use of directional drilling from fewer drill pads, and conducting interim reclamation of disturbed areas. This program has resulted in what was once an 85 acre footprint for drilling to less than two acres.

Canyon Fuel Company’s Skyline Mine selected a more environmentally friendly alternative for construction of a ventilation portal in the historic Winter Quarters Canyon in spite of significantly increased costs. This decision resulted in a much smaller pad that preserved a creek and the historic nature of the canyon.

Simplot Phosphates award came after the company undertook a stream bank stabilization and restoration project on Big Brush Creek in a bend that if left to natural forces could potentially jeopardize highway 191, phone lines, and a natural gas pipeline. Simplot stabilized the stream bank to prevent further erosion.

The award for the Western Clay Company that operates the Aurora Clay Pit resulted from the company’s voluntary reclamation of an existing pre-law pit adjacent to its mining site. This reclamation reduced a public safety hazard for ATV riders and returned the land to a wildlife use area.

More than 100 Earth Day awards have been presented since the start of the program. The essential requirement for receiving an award is that a company, organization or individual voluntarily performs work that significantly enhances or improves the environment even though such action is not required by law.

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