Laser-Guided System Helps Complete Three Intricate Bores

Plains Midstream Canada selected Specialized Services Company (SSC) to install sleeves at three locations to accommodate a new line being added to the underground infrastructure used to load and unload LPG from tankers and railcars at the Bumstead facility, an underground LPG storage cavern located along the Interstate 10 corridor between Phoenix and Los Angeles.


Project owner Plains Midstream, headquartered in Houston, is involved in crude oil transportation, gathering, marketing, terminaling and storage as well as marketing and storage of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

Situated some 2,000 feet below ground at the juncture of a major rail line and tanker truck transit point, the 133-million-gallon facility is composed of three underground salt-dome storage caverns, a 24-car rail rack and three truck racks on the surface with the capability to unload six trucks simultaneously. To expedite the loading and unloading of tankers and railcars more quickly, Plains Midstream installed an additional 6-inch diameter high-pressure gas line.

The project awarded to SSC involved installing six separate 12-inch diameter steel casing sleeves with a 3/8-inch wall thickness at three separate locations. Abe Veidmark, vice president of the auger division for SSC explained the challenges faced by the trenchless installation contractor, and the decision to use an innovative new approach for completing these intricate bores.

“It wasn’t so much the ground conditions or pitch, but rather the pinpoint accuracy of the line grade we needed to achieve for us to succeed,” he said. “When installing smaller material with standard auger boring, it is nearly impossible to steer with the accuracy required for all of these bores. In all likelihood there would have been a good deal of drifting (with auger boring), something inherent with this method for shorter distances. All of these bores were less than 200 feet.”

Precision-fine Boring
After reviewing the specifications and intricacies they would face at each of the three sites, Abe, along with brother Arvid, executive vice president and senior estimator for SSC, recommended an innovative, alternative approach. Months prior, Arvid attended a demonstration where a Vermeer laser-guided boring system is featured that had the capability to complete smaller-diameter bores with pinpoint accuracy and strict on-grade precision. Although designed primarily for sewer and water projects, the two felt the AXIS™ guided boring system was the answer they were looking for.

AXIS is a pit-launched trenchless installation method designed to achieve precise, on-grade accuracy while eliminating some of the difficult steps associated with other installation techniques. The system was designed to install 8-18-inch pipe at lengths up to 350 feet, although larger diameter and longer length bores have been completed. AXIS is also capable of maintaining the strict tolerance and accuracy required for the types of installations facing SSC as specified in the Plains Midstream job. The system requires an entry pit where the core of the system is placed, composed of the rack, drill casings, drill head and pipe laser. Located outside the launch pit is the vacuum power unit, vacuum tank and the rack power unit.

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  • “Just wanted to say thank you for the safety culture your company has. It’s a breath of fresh air to see other companies embracing being safe. I sat in on your crews’ safety meeting this morning prior to the start of their work on Ray Rd. “

    Scott Nunemaker – Vice President, RCCM

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  • “A big thank you to SSC for jumping on this quickly as they did to help the team get this information so quickly. It’s much appreciated and was pretty impressive to see 5 separate potholing crews descend upon Rio Salado the way they did today!”

    Christopher Laute, Resident Engineer, Valley Metro

  • We’ve used SSC for a number of years and I’ve been very pleased. Thanks and keep up the great work.

    Dave Klann, Staff Engineer, Mactec

  • SSC did a great job. Their assistance during pre-construction was greatly appreciated and differentiated them from the competition. Keep doing what you do best!

    Jim Drago, Sundt Construction

  • I called with short notice to some work and SSC responded immediately. In this market, dollars seem to control everything and quality of people and work seem to have diminished. The professionalism and hard work of your crew takes me back to when people knew what they were doing and cared. Intelligent guys that work […]

    Lonnie Ferguson, Project Manager, Construction 70

  • As a civil engineering consultant, I usually recommend your services but rarely use them with the exception being vacuum excavating. I have attended your seminars in the past and find them very helpful. I recommend continuing the education to make designers better. If we understand and know how to specify your service, we are more […]

    Bill Gasque, Sr. Civil Engineer, Dowl HKM

  • SSC handled the project perfectly even went above to schedule directly with the gas company, made my job easier.

    Tony Smith, Owner, Western Underground

  • You and your staff are always responsive to our needs and make sure you clearly understand the scope of the work in advance, so there are no surprises. I really appreciate that attitude.

    Michael Rhodes, Civil Engineer, Gila River Indian Community

  • Overall a good company. Very professional in approach and execution of work. Courtesy and respect shown by all personnel, a welcome rarity in the business. Keep doing what you’re doing, and thank you.

    M. Gartner, Project Manager, Sybrant Construction

  • We have been using your company’s services for about 3 years now. I have never heard a negative comment. Bringing Curtis on board is a definite plus as far as I am concerned. He keeps me informed about the work that I have done and he is very through and dependable.

    David Cross, Utility Coordinator, MCDOT

  • Your field crew did a great job!

    Nick Nikrant, Project Manager, Builders Guild

  • Crew was courteous & helpful.

    Jayde Bullard, Project Manager, Caljet of America, LLC.

  • This is the second time working with this foreman. Will request him again. Easy to work with.

    David Willett, Aero Automatic Sprinkler Co.

  • Superb foreman…Exceptional!

    Curtis Briggs, Shea Homes

  • Great work! SSC was timely, responsive and professional. I would use them again.

    Stewart Vaghti, Project Engineer, Gannett Fleming, Inc.

  • I have always had good and quick service from SSC.

    Sally Raymer, Sundt Construction

  • Arvid was very accommodating in getting crew onsite within 2 hours of my call.

    Dennis Sime, Project Superintendent, Hunter Contracting

  • First I want to express once again how impressed I am with you and your support group. You are all “top notch.” Yes the job went well and I appreciate your help. It really made a huge difference on such a critical facility. I still can’t believe (even though I saw it with my own […]

    David McKinley, VFC-Arizona

  • Great service on short notice. Thanks!

    Richard Komzelman, Carson Construction

  • The entire SSC crew was extremely professional and flexible. All of your company’s efforts are greatly appreciated and you will be our boring subcontractor on any future projects.

    Ben Myers, Project Manager, GRG Construction

  • Your team made this challenging casing push a success.

    Michael Fossett, Project Manager, SDB Inc.

  • Extensive knowledge of the local soil conditions coupled with their proven skills has insured that every job is completed within our schedule and budget. We’ve worked with SSC for many years and always found them to more than equal our high required standards and able to complete any task.

    Brian Chavez, Chief Estimator/Project Manager, Tyers Contracting

  • I would like to thank you for your prompt response to our urgent need for your services. The men you sent did a fantastic and quick bore. We do so appreciate your company for that. Thanks!

    Patricia Riggs, Town of Gila Bend

  • Our job was especially challenging. The SSC team worked six days, around the clock and the testimony to the success of their efforts is that the general public never knew they were here. An additional thanks to SSC for their professional courtesy. In our industry, it is something I do not encounter often enough.

    Chris McCoy, Superintendent, Gilbane Building Company

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    Mike Levi, Estimator/Project Manager, Holloman Corporation