By Alec Breen, North East & Yorkshire Section committee member
With the sound of leather striking willow in the background, the North East & Yorkshire Section was given a fascinating technical evening presentation at Durham Cricket Club, on 5 June.
The Section welcomed Phil Croft, Senior Project Manager at National Grid, who gave an update on the River Humber Gas Pipeline Replacement Project.
This is National Grid’s groundbreaking, multi-million pound project to replace the Feeder 9 pipeline, one of the most important pipelines in the country, connecting Paull, north of the river in Yorkshire, to Goxhill, North Lincolnshire, in the south.
With 4km of tunnelling already accomplished, and one more due for completion in August, this was a perfect opportunity for Phil to update the Section on progress. Phil explained the work carried out over the past few years, the learnings gained from projects around the world and the planning challenges with this and alternative options.
Phil began by describing the initial planning process and the options available to the National Grid team. He described in detail the two projects in Australia and Germany that adopted this chosen method. However, in a key difference, this project will create the largest inserted pipeline in the world, due to be entered into the Guinness Book of Records later this year.
The audience learnt of the traffic management arrangements around this environmentally sensitive and rural setting. Phil went on to describe the technical and operational difficulties in managing this huge operation. Community engagement has been a major success factor for National Grid on this project, with unprecedented support from the residents. Finally, he went on to describe the boring operation using Mary, the boring machine named after Mary Fergusson, the first Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers.
Discussions continued with a flurry of questions and answers from the audience on insertion techniques, the lifespan of the pipeline, pipeline protection and accuracy of tunnelling.
Ben Smith, Section Chair, concluded the session with a heartfelt thanks to Phil for, what everyone agreed, was an educational evening.