In September of 2008, a category 4 hurricane “Hurricane Ike” ripped through the Gulf of Mexico wrecking havoc on anything that stood in its way. Since the Gulf of Mexico holds an abundance of fossil fuels such as natural gas and oil many offshore platforms and pipelines harvesting these energy sources were affected by this hurricane. Following the hurricane the corporation TransCanada surveyed their offshore system using a digital sidescan SONAR and digital sub-bottom profilers. They found that some of their 24-inch diameter pipeline had been moved 1800 feet!! The hurricane had moved the pipe along the ocean floor with no damage to the pipe! The pipeline settled 5-feet from the base of a platform owned by a different company. Due to Department of Interior regulations this pipeline had to be moved so it was a total distance of 500 feet from the foreign company’s platform. After two years of planning and negotiating with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management a plan was developed to re-route the pipeline 500 feet around the platform. In August 2011, the Pipeline Re-Route & Stabilization Project began in Port Arthur Texas aided by Florida Tech’s Ocean Engineering student Jeremy Sirois for his co-op experience.
The project utilized two ships, the Atlantic and the Brave to install the pipe and anchoring system. The Atlantic crew was esponsible for cutting the old line, installing the new line, salvaging the old pipe, and trenching the new pipe into the ocean floor. Once this was completed the Brave passed over the new pipeline and installed mooring anchors. Since the pipeline was in over 200 feet of water it was not mandatory to completely bury the pipeline, hence why it could have moved during Hurricane Ike.
According to Jeremy Sirois, “This project enhanced my organization, communication, managerial, and interpersonal skills. My assigned position during this project was to help the Manager of Offshore Assets. It was very important to communicate with the contractors performing the work and the employees that were preparing the lines before the actual work could start. Staying organized was extremely important with a project of this scale. With constant communication with the contractors my interpersonal skills were improved. It was important to get along with the contractors performing the work. With the good relationship the project flowed extremely well.”
Jeremy Sirois also says “the best feature of this project was being able to be on the ship and experience the project first hand. Another great feature of the project was the ability to work with and learn from another Ocean Engineer. The lead engineer of the project was extremely knowledgeable and willing to explain each process of the project to me. If I didn’t understand a certain procedure he would thoroughly explain the process as well as the engineering behind it. I was extremely satisfied with my co-op experience! This project was not only a part of the field that I want to go into when I graduate (offshore energy production), but was also an extremely rare experience that few people get to experience.”