Protecting a Pipeline

by Manuel Garcia-Lopez, (M.ASCE), Principal; Ingenieria y Geotecnia Ltda., Apartado Aero 14455, Santafe de Bogota, Colombia S.A.,
Donald H. Gray, (M.ASCE), Prof.; Dept. of Civ. & Environ. Engrg., Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1994, Vol. 64, Issue 12, Pg. 44-47

Document Type: Feature article


A 30-inch oil pipeline, presently under construction through mountainous terrain in central Colombia, transports petroleum from the Cusiana oil field to the coast. The discovery of the Cusiana oil field 100 miles east of Bogota has been described as the largest find in the Americas since the Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska in 1969. High rainfall, steep unstable slopes, difficult access, environmental constraints, and attacks by guerrilla forces characterize the pipeline construction project. The basic routing strategy has been to follow ridge lines where possible or to locate the pipeline on midslope, cut benches. Even so numerous stream crossings are required, and the right-of-way plunges up and down repeatedly. A major area of concern is the restoration and protection of the pipeline right-of-way against slope failures and erosion. Basic principles of erosion/sediment control have been invoked effectively during construction of the pipeline during its various phases. Handling excess runoff and mitigating the impact of disturbed hillside hydrology following clearing and grading operations along the pipeline right-of-way have been key factors in minimizing adverse environmental impacts of the pipeline construction. Conventional erosion control measures, appropriately modified to meet local site conditions, have been successful for the most part. These range from the widespread use of cross slope drains to surface vegetative treatments.

Subject Headings: Pipelines | Construction management | Slopes | Pipeline management | Oil pipelines | Erosion | Surface drainage

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