Damage prevention

Damage Prevention Awareness

January 12, 2023

By Nate Osterberg, Director of Strategic Growth, WSB

Impacts on the Oil and Gas Industry

According to the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), damages to underground facilities cost $61 billion annually. To protect the public, reduce costs, and incorporate asset management, damage prevention has become a relevant conversation for stakeholders across the construction industry. Advances in technology and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) are spurring more engagement throughout the country.

IIJA Impact

With the passage of IIJA, there is an increase in construction activity including utility, road, and renewable infrastructure. The current demand for utility locators is extraordinary and when coupled with the labor shortage and increasing demand, it is only becoming more challenging. In these circumstances, we rely on technology to guide us. To offset impacts from the labor market we incorporate digital mapping into production locating processes.

Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE)
SUE is the investigation of buried utilities that identifies conflicts and mitigates risks in the pre-engineering phase of construction. Using survey grade-accuracy with cutting-edge locating and survey equipment, capable of sub-centimeter accuracy, we identify risk and conflicts. Our team captures the location information to digitally map the facilities. When unlocatable utilities are identified, our team of damage prevention specialists approaches the challenge with different means and methods.   

Cataloging for the Future

Locating the utility is the first step, but just as important is the data collection. Once a utility is located the information is documented and added to an asset management database. This process is having a major impact on the industry and is assuring accuracy for future locates. Construction plans are evaluated through a digital twin utility map, resulting in cost and time savings and enhanced design data. After decades of stagnant innovation, the industry is advancing quickly because of cutting-edge tools that allow for safer conditions and better planning.

Impact Across an Industry

With hundreds of field staff on active job sites, the collection of highly accurate location data for new and existing facilities is becoming vital to project performance.  With minimal impact on budget and a streamlined mapping process, data collection efforts reduce the time it takes to provide facility owners and 811 systems with updated and accurate records.

The Top Drivers in Damage Prevention

  1. Public Safety
  2. Infrastructure Act
  3. 5G initiative
  4. Increased Damages to Facilities
  5. Unlocatable and Untoneable Utilities
  6. Workforce Turnover & Experience
Top 500 Design Firms

WSB Announces Two Key Director Promotions in Oil & Gas Services

Engineering and consulting firm WSB announced today two key director promotions within their Oil & Gas services. Jayson Honer was promoted to director of field services and Nate Osterberg was promoted to director of strategic growth – oil & gas. WSB’s Oil & Gas team provides comprehensive, in-house services for clients that ensure compliance to design standards, procedures, and regulations for safe construction, rehabilitation, and replacement of pipelines. 

Headshot of Jayson Honer

Jayson Honer
Director of Field Services

Nate Osterberg Headshot

Nate Osterberg
Director of Strategic Growth – Oil & Gas

“We are very excited to promote two talented employees within WSB’s Oil & Gas service area to director. Both Jayson Honer and Nate Osterberg are outstanding leaders and team members who will help provide instrumental leadership, direction, and growth for WSB while ensuring unmatched service for our clients,” said John Gerlach, vice president of oil & gas. 

As director of field services, Honer will plan, direct, and oversee the operations of oil and gas field services across all regions of WSB. He will coordinate the ongoing management of operation, direction, and coordination of services while driving strategic field service initiatives, process improvement, and client relationship management. 

“Ensuring top client service – from pipeline engineering and design to environmental compliance – is important for our clients, and that means efficient, thorough processes and management of our teams,” said Honer. “I look forward to serving in my new role at WSB, continuing to grow our world-class oil and gas services.”

As director of strategic growth – oil & gas, Osterberg will help launch new partnership opportunities that will drive expansion and engagement and grow partner-driven revenue. This role requires a deep understanding of the industry landscape, sound business judgment, and leadership to develop and grow in start-up regions.

“WSB’s oil and gas business is growing and expanding, and I look forward to working collaboratively to further expand opportunities for our business and industry as a whole,” said Osterberg. “Our industry is constantly evolving and changing, so thinking strategically about future trends, partnership opportunities, and how to support WSB’s staff in start-up regions is vital to the success of our industry and ensuring we are continuing to provide top service to our clients.” Learn more about WSB’s oil & gas services here.

4 Takeaways from PHMSA’s Joint Pipeline Advisory Committee Meeting

By Brandi Wolfe, Regulatory Compliance Manager, WSB

Last week I tuned into PHMSA’s joint Gas Pipeline Advisory Committee (GPAC) and Liquid Pipeline Advisory Committee (LPAC) meeting. PHMSA leadership and PAC members updated the industry on new priorities and expectations. Throughout the two days of presentations, four things immediately jumped out to me.

1. How do new regulatory priorities affect your business?

It’s been more than a year since the last PAC meetings and the issuance of regulations has been on pause. With changes in the administration, PHMSA leadership, and the new PIPES Act of 2020 law, priorities have been revised. Being prepared for upcoming regulations is the best business decision operators can make.

2. What should you include in your O&M Manual to address ADB 2021-01?

PHMSA considers some sections of the PIPES Act to be self-executing provisions. However, they issued the Advisory Bulletin 2021-01 earlier this year to remind operators to include updates to their procedural manuals on how they plan to eliminate hazardous leaks and minimize natural gas releases. What manual revisions should you include by the December 27th, 2021, deadline?

3. How does the PIPES Act of 2020 affect PHMSA, future rules, and the industry?

Last December a 2,100 page appropriations bill was signed into law. That document included 34 pages of mandates to PHMSA and the industry. Decoding which sections apply and how they will affect operators can be a lengthy process.

4 . What changes will the proposed Standards Update Rule bring?

Published on January 15th, 2021, this rulemaking proposes to update more than 25% of PHMSA’s Incorporated by Reference industry standards. Adoption of these more recent specifications can help bring up to date operators, their suppliers, and regulatory bodies with the latest technologies and best practices.

Want a more detailed information?

Join me as we discuss the meetings in a pair of identical, 60-minute regulatory webinars. I will be available for questions after the webinar.

Please click below to register for one of the following session:

  • Tuesday, October 26th at 11:00 am EST
  • Thursday, October 28th at 4:00 pm EST

Brandi Wolfe is the Regulatory Compliance Manager at WSB. During her 14 years in the energy industry she has worked in planning, engineering, construction, and operations departments, both as an operator and a consultant. Brandi is actively involved in the development of industry technical standards with organizations such as the American Petroleum Institute (API), National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE), the Gas Piping Technology Committee (GPTC), and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) B31.8

Are you ready for Colorado’s new Digital As-Constructed Requirements?

By Nate Osterberg, Pipeline Inspector, WSB

Effective January 14, 2021, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will mandate that all new permitted utility installations meet Digital As-Constructed Requirements (DAC) in accordance with the Utility Accommodation Code Rule 3.3.4.6.2.  New requirements under State Highway Accommodation Code, 2 CCR 601-18, Rule 3.3.4.6.2 Digital As-Constructed Requirements, Plan and Profile 3.3.4.3 mandate uniformity in utility mapping, as-builts and plan-and-profile submissions. Utility permits will begin stipulating this requirement soon.  Additionally, there are new Plan and Profile requirements for all Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) operations within CDOT’s Right of Way.

But what does this mean?

Essentially, this means that anyone working within CDOT’s Right of Way must perform a digital utility locate survey for any underground utilities – commonly known as Subsurface Utility Engineering (SUE).  The survey must be submitted using their chosen software. 

What is SUE?

SUE is an engineering practice used to obtain reliable underground utility information. Accurate and successful SUE practices benefit contractors, transportation departments and utility companies by limited the need for unnecessary utility relocations, avoiding unexpected conflicts and enhancing safety.

How do I do this digitally?

You combine the right tools with the right expertise. The digital world of 3D modeling can be intimidating, but a digital approach is actually more accurate, efficient and safe. Using mobile mapping software, utilities can be captured, recorded and displayed precisely accurately and seamlessly. 

Learn more about our complete Pipeline services or Utility Mapping and how to prepare for upcoming requirements.

Nate Osterberg has over 12 years of experience in the utility industry and specializes in utility inspection for WSB’s Pipeline group. Nate’s expertise lies in managing inspection staff technology implementation, scheduling and quality control in addition to CFR 192/195 inspection, damage prevention and GIS-based web mapping.

nosterberg@wbeng.com | 612.202.2997

Nate Osterberg

Pipeline inspections: What communities should know

John Gerlach, Director of Pipeline Field Operations, WSB

Learn how inspections and monitoring can keep your utilities running smoothly and safely.

Whether filled with natural gas to fuel and heat homes and businesses or transporting liquid fuels from one location to another, most communities have miles of pipes embedded underground with other critical infrastructure. There’s a misconception that these lines are primarily located in remote areas. In reality, pipeline infrastructure can be found beneath our roadways and sidewalks or near homes, businesses, landmarks, parks and other natural resources. Pipeline infrastructure can range from large, high-pressure steel lines that serve cities and powerplants, to small plastic lines, used to transport gas from the street to your home or place or business. These complex networks require expertise to ensure the safety of people and the environment, as well as reliable access to the fuels we need to enjoy hot showers, drive to work and keep the lights on.

With increasing federal regulatory standards, now is the time to become more focused on pipeline integrity and safety. WSB offers inspections that help utilities and cities understand the condition of their infrastructure, reduce costly and inefficient repairs, improve safety and maintain the long-term integrity of these important pipelines.

Why hire a third-party inspector?

Pipeline inspectors can add value and security to any project near utility lines. Most commonly, inspectors are hired to oversee the contractors working on infrastructure projects such as roadway improvements or utility replacements. When these projects interfere with the natural gas system, pipeline inspectors who can recognize and mitigate potential risks are invaluable. 

Third-party experts can also be utilized to verify the results of other inspections, like performing audits that identify pipeline locations before a project is started. A second opinion can identify costly errors before the damage is done. In our experience, an audit of locate work finds mistakes roughly 30% of the time.  

A new regulatory environment

Investigations into high-profile pipeline releases over the past decade have prompted new regulatory recommendations and standards. Pipeline releases can have devasting consequences to people and the environment including fatalities, injuries, forced evacuation and damage to properties and natural resources. In many cases, regulators – like the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board – require independent, third-party inspections of pipelines and pipeline projects. 

Technology advantage

New technologies have made evaluating pipeline integrity more efficient. Rather than digging up pipelines under a densely populated area to check for deterioration, a device can be sent through the line that shows anomalies like corrosion and damage from past construction. Most pipes should be replaced every 15 to 20 years. Since pipeline replacement projects are typically planned in coordination with other infrastructure improvements, this type of check can help communities identify which projects should be prioritized first.  

WSB also offers real-time reporting on pipeline status through an ArcGIS platform. This technology can detect an increase in pressure or corrosion on the line and send notifications to technicians in the field.  

At first glance, hiring an outside expert to ensure compliance and verify accuracy can appear costly. In the end, pipeline inspectors can make your project run smoothly, reduce issues in the field and reduce the risk of releases, accidents and other safety hazards. Reach out to WSB’s utility and pipeline experts today to learn more.

John Gerlach is a Director of Pipeline Field Operations with more than 30 years of experience. His expertise extends to pipeline design, construction inspection and safety and risk management.