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Technical advisor DNV GL has published a new standard that reduces risk and improves the quality of site investigation, engineering, planning and execution of pipeline installation through horizontal directional drilling (HDD)

Horizontal Drill Rig at 16 degreesHorizontal Drill Rig at 16 degrees. (Image source: DNV GL)

The new standard, DNVGL-ST-F121, was developed through a Joint Industry Project (JIP) and sets out a series of minimum requirements and best practices for all phases, from site investigation, engineering and planning to pipeline installation to reduce the risk associated with HDD crossings.

The use of HDD installation techniques has increased significantly over the last decades. The 21st Annual Underground Construction magazine HDD survey estimated in 2019 that contractors expected HDD to be applied to almost half (47 per cent) of their projects. However, HDD crossings are complex in nature and always challenging.

It is not uncommon to face problems during execution with a significant impact on cost and schedule. The best way to overcome this is to ensure a proper investigation, engineering, planning and execution of all drilling-related activities. Additionally, there are currently no methods for in situ repair of damaged pipelines installed by HDD, which makes it even more important to ensure the quality of pipeline design, construction and installation.

The earlier potential risks and problems are identified in an HDD project, the better for the delivery of the project.

All these challenges led to a joint industry project to consolidate the knowledge and experience of HDD. Operators, EPC companies and drilling contractors were brought together for the first time, addressing not only the borehole stability and the drilling activities perspective but also the aspects related to the pipeline integrity as well.

Frank Ketelaars, regional manager, Americas, DNV GL – Oil & Gas, said, “DNV GL brought together a multi-disciplinary group of experts that resulted in a new standard that has established clear parameters, limits and criteria for essential issues related to HDD projects. We are confident that this standard will bring long-term benefit to HDD operations, reducing risk and improving quality.”