Wake Up to a Beautifully Restored ROW

Wake Up to a Beautifully Restored ROW

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by a hill slip that occurred on your right-of-way (ROW). (Not sure what a hill slip is? Read: What in the Heck is a Hill Slip?)

After years of pre-project planning, FERC approval, permits, land acquisitions, vendor assessments, bid evaluations, negotiations with stakeholders, construction hiccups and landowner complaints, the pipeline is finally built, gas is flowing and then — BAM! — a hill slip exposes the pipeline and costs millions of dollars to repair.

It’s no secret that pipeline contractors do one thing really well. They are exceptional at building a pipeline under the ground. However, when it comes to growing grass, re-vegetating and beautifully restoring the ROW to its original condition, this is not a core competency of most pipeline contractors.

The good news is that a few emerging trends in ROW restoration can help you avoid costly problems.

1. Build ROW restoration expertise into your construction plan

Instead of asking a pipeline contractor to serve a function that’s outside the scope of their expertise, many clients are bringing PLH Group’s ROW restoration experts, M&M Pipeline Services, to the table right from the beginning. With midstream clients, we determine the right time to bring in the restoration crew and relieve the pipe crew.

For example, once the rough grade soil is back in place, M&M will enter the scene to perform final grading, reclamation, landowner requests (including fencing, easement maintenance and repairs and removal of E&S controls) and ongoing monitoring, including weekly post-rain event inspections and reporting. The last step is the final permit close out.

2. Consider restoration as a program

For the last six years, M&M Pipelines has implemented this a strategic plan with a major pipeline and midstream client and our client has never looked back. This Fortune 500 company* has approximately 22,000 miles of natural gas transmission pipeline and 300 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of storage capacity in the United States and Canada. Each year, they have a list of right-of-way issues (reseeding, hill slips, FERC punch list) to be addressed in different areas of their operations. M&M Pipeline Services helps them to develop their annual ROW restoration budget and dedicates a crew to their needs.

3. Develop incentives that drive business solutions

Hill slips in Pennsylvania and West Virginia have become so prevalent that environmental agencies have denied permits for many of our clients. Business screeches to a halt and efforts refocus toward hill slips. This is not what the CEO wants to hear; this is not a good business model. Fortunately, the situation is perfectly avoidable, and we are here to help our clients continue business operations as quickly as possible.

Aligning construction efforts with business objectives is a no-brainer. Still, a surprising number of contractors fail to align their services with the business goals of their clients. At PLH Group, we jump at the opportunity to identify a mutually beneficial incentive plan aimed at business results. For example, in the event that a client receives a Permit Notice of Violation while the easement is under our watch (and, no, this has never happened), there are financial penalties. On the other hand, early permit termination carries financial incentives for us and is a win-win solution, because it allows for rapid closing of permits immediately after completion of construction. A closed permit opens the door to new business opportunities for our clients.

The Results

Hill slips rarely happen overnight; they happen over a period of time during which they are ignored until the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) steps in to halt future permits. Hill slips and other preventable ROW issues result in big headaches and a massively expensive restoration operation. Companies who are committed to a long-term solution do it right the first time. At PLH Group, we can help you with that.

*Some client names have been protected.  Boring, I know. 🙂

I am happy to leverage my team of experts to assess and address your hill slip or ROW issues. We are dedicated to restoring your ROW right the first time.

Courtney McShane is the Director of Business Development at PLH Group, a portfolio company with expertise in pipeline construction and engineering services. For more information, see our website www.plhgroupinc.com.