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Florida Gas expansion adds more than 100,000 HP.

One of the largest pipeline expansions in the U.S. for 1994 is progressing towards its targeted year-end completion, despite a season with the heaviest rains in 110 years. Florida Gas Transmission Co.'s Phase III Expansion is winding its way from Louisiana to southern Florida. The $900 million, four-state project includes construction of 815 miles of new pipeline and three new compressor stations plus expansion of eight existing stations. In all, 106,870 hp in additional compression capability is being added to the Florida Gas system.

"When complete, the new facilities will move an additional 530 MMcfd of natural gas," said Carl Schulz, vice president of project management services, who directs the Phase III project. "The project will increase the capacity of the Florida Gas system to approximately 1.4 Bcfd and will increase the amount of Florida's energy provided by the company from 11% to 15%," he added.

Florida Gas is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Citrus Corp., which is jointly-owned by a subsidiary of Enron Corp., Houston, and Sonat Inc., Birmingham, Alabama.

Compressor Stations

According to Schulz, the compressor station portion of the project began last February and is being completed ahead of schedule. Target date for completion is expected by mid-October. New and revamped stations will go on-line with the rest of the pipeline system at the end of the project.

"Early commitments for manufacturing of the compressor units and engineered equipment, and taking the project to the field as early as possible have been the key to early completion," he said.

According to Carlon Nelson, director of compressor station construction for the Phase III expansion, this construction caps off more than a two-year process of planning, engineering, and construction. "We did a lot of up-front analysis to enhance the profitability of the stations and to minimize both construction time and cost," she said. "We also involved our operating personnel at the beginning of the process to ensure that their requirements were adequately met," she said.

Florida Gas is installing reciprocating engines at five of the stations and turbine engines at the other six. Installed reciprocating compressors range from 4,000 hp to 6,000 hp each while the turbine engines range from 1,070 hp to 12,000 hp each. Universal Engineering, Houston, engineered the reciprocating stations and Armellini Engineering, Tulsa, engineered the turbine stations.

According to Nelson, a special process employed during manufacturing of the reciprocating units was physical testing of control panels and compressor units together prior to shipment. "Usually these units are tested separately and are matched together for the first time in the field, which can lead to various startup problems," she said.

"We went to the extra time and expense of bringing the units and control panels together before shipping to test all circuitry and to ensure that everything worked together. This procedure helped us eliminate many compatibility problems once the units were set in place," she added.

All stations will incorporate micro-processor-based controls, or prorammable logic controllers (PLC) which will allow remote start-and-stop operations via satellite link, according to Nelson. Each station is equipped with a bi-directional satellite dish to transmit data to and receive data from Gas Control in Houston.

This PLC technology also will give Florida Gas the ability to access current and historical operating information from any station within the system, she stated.

Maintenance Reducing Features

Design of the compressor stations also incorporated several features to reduce future maintenance. All structural steel is galvanized rather than painted to better withstand the high-moisture environment of the Southeast U.S. Building floors and walls were sealed instead of painted to cope with moisture and reduce maintenance needs in the future, according to Nelson.

Compressor stations in Florida faced particular challenges from a civil engineering standpoint, again due to moisture, she explained. "Because of the inherent instability of some soils and groundwater located at about an 18-in. depth, extensive piling was required," she said.

Environmental Considerations

Environmental considerations also were vital to the project. All compressor units include the latest technology for reducing air emissions. "We also considered even minor sources of emissions such as emergency generators and fitted them with catalytic convertors to reduce emissions," Nelson said.

Also, according to Jerry Murphy, director of compressor station construction, one of the important design features of the compressor buildings is extensive use of noise abatement techniques. "This project called for stringent limits on allowable noise levels at the nearest receptor of 55 decibels, and even lower during nighttime operations, "he explained. To meet these requirements, compressor building walls are constructed with 14 inches of insulation. Wall construction consisted of an outer layer of corrugated steel, seven inches of fiberglass insulation, a middle layer of corrugated steel, seven inches of mineral wool, and an inner layer of corrugated steel.

He added that other noise abatement methods included larger-than-average mufflers at each station plus concrete foundations and compressor bases designed specifically to dampen resonant vibration. Equipment installed at each station includes the gas compressor, pulsation bottles at reciprocating stations, filter separators (or scrubbers), lubricating oil storage tanks, a compressor fuel system, control equipment, and up to a 1/4 mile of natural gas piping.

Each site used approximately 800 yards of rebar-reinforced poured concrete for the compressor building and another 1,000 yards of concrete went into other various foundations or supports, he said.

Compressor station and auxiliary building construction consists of corrugated steel on a frame frame. Compressor building walls are 20-ft. tall and auxiliary building walls are 12-ft. high, he said.

Construction Activities

Four construction contractors are completing the compressor stations project for Florida Gas: W.H.C., Inc. of Lafayette, Louisiana; Ranger Plant Constructional Co., Abilene, Texas; Bluewater Constructors, Inc., Houston; and Piute Contractors, Inc., Ocala, Florida. Schulz said that construction has proceeded on schedule throughout the year.

Pipeline construction was interrupted in certain areas due to heavy rains and flooding. This called for some creative problem solving to keep the project on schedule, explained Schulz. "As a result, through mutual agreement of Florida Gas and pipeline contractors H.C. Price and Murphy Bros., H.C. Price will complete 23.9 miles of pipeline originally slated for Murphy Bros, to help make up time," he said. "This is with the aim of meeting our December 31, 1994 scheduled completion date."

A third contractor, Latex Construction Company, also is constructing portions of the pipeline.

Environmental protection and safety have been key components in all construction activities. "We are building this project under one of the most extensive sets of mitigation measures ever required of a pipeline project by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Construction crosses approximately 1,500 wetlands and 526 streams and rivers, all of which also require meeting special permit conditions imposed by other federal and state agencies," Schulz added.

Workers on the project have attained a very high safety record under difficult construction conditions. "Approximately 600 miles of the pipeline parallel existing Florida Gas pipeline and approximately 150 miles of pipeline also parallel high voltage power lines. Each of these conditions require extreme care during construction," he explained.

Pipeline construction also paralleled Florida's Sunshine Parkway. Working near both a highly-traveled highway and existing pipeline facilities made this construction extremely difficult," he said. "In spite of these challenges, workers achieved an exemplary level of safety performance," he said praisingly.
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Title Annotation:Florida Gas Transmission Co.
Publication:Pipeline & Gas Journal
Date:Oct 1, 1994
Words:1220
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