CCI Paper is Published in 2020 Edition of GLSA Trenchless Journal

We are pleased to announce that in the 2020 edition of the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence & Atlantic Trenchless Journal, CCI’s Sam Wilson and Jeff Miller along with Adam Van Nood from Marathon Underground had their paper “Shore Approach Horizontal Directional Drill Crossings into the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick” published. Way to go guys!

Shore Approach Horizontal Directional Drill Crossings into the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswuick

Sam Wilson P.Eng, CCI Inc, Edmonton, Alberta
Jeff Miller E.I.T., CCI Inc, Edmonton, Alberta
Adam Van Nood, Marathon Underground, Ottawa, Ontario

New Brunswick Power Transmission Corporation (NB Power) is constructing the Fundy Isles Transmission Power Line Project which consists of 69 kV Submarine Cables from Deer Island, NB to Campobello Island, NB and from Campobello Island to Grand Manan Island, NB. This project will provide electricity to the islands and will replace existing cables installed in 1978 and nearing the end of their service life.

NB Power requested that the connection between the submarine and the land-based sections of the project be completed utilizing the Horizontal Directional Drill (HOD) methodology to mitigate any concerns of future exposure due to erosion from the large tidal action within the bay. The HOD crossings were to include the installation of three HOPE conduits, one 16-inch 0.0. HOPE conduit along with two spare 3.5-inch HOPE conduits for future corrosion protection measures inside a 24″ common borehole. The project included four shore approach crossings, designed to be progressed through 0-50% ROD Mafic Tuft, Shale bedrock, and overburden materials.

Marathon Underground (Marathon) was successful in the tendering process for the project. CCI Inc. (CCI) was subcontracted to assist with production of feasible designs and provide HOD construction experience and support.

The unique nature of the shore approach methodologies, space constraints, marine activities, and difficult ground conditions at the crossing locations culminated in complicated conditions for HOD installations.

Through comprehensive engineering design, significant combined HOD experience, and Marathon’s ability to adapt to onsite conditions, two of the four crossings were successfully completed by HOD methods and two were completed with open cut methodologies with all completion dates meeting the required in-service date.

This article will discuss the challenges faced during both the design and construction phases of the shore approach crossings.

To read the entire article, click on the image below.

CCI & Associates Welcomes Neil Smith as Managing Director

— Corporate Announcement —


Welcome to the CCI Group of Companies Neil Smith, Managing Director for CCI & Associates Inc.

Mr. Neil Smith’s role will be to further develop CCI & Associates Engineering and EPC capabilities for specialized projects. He will be based out of our Houston office.

Neil graduated, with honors, with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Manchester in 1983. He is a Chartered Engineer and a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Neil brings, to CCI & Associates and its clients, 30 years’ HDD experience in complex, long and large diameter Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) crossings using steel, HDPE and FPVC pipe, at environmentally sensitive sites, in rural and congested urban areas, for shore landings and offshore in open waters. He has been instrumental in enabling the advancement of trenchless technology to benefit the industry and enable optimum project solutions.

Neil has over 30 years’ experience in leading international HDD contracting companies. Before assuming executive management roles, he gained experience in the HDD sector as project engineer, site manager, project manager and general manager. Neil’s accomplishments include building world class companies, delivering many challenging and significant projects (several recognized with industry awards) and the development of niche businesses in marine based HDD crossings (shore approaches and water-to-water crossings).

Neil has won multiple awards for his work with trenchless technology groups. In years past, he has been active in trade specific professional organizations and served as the President of the Directional Crossing Contractors Association.

The CCI Group of Companies are pleased to have Neil join our team.

Slurry Density and Hoop Stress During HDD Installation – Are they Underestimated

CCI & Associates continues to stay at the fore front of Horizontal Directional Drilling methods and designs through continued education and research by the employees. Recently a CCI Project Manager and University of Alberta Ph. D Research Associate, Ashkan Faghih completed a paper; Slurry Density and Hoop Stress During HDD Installation – Are they Underestimated? 

The paper was then submitted to a research poster competition held at the NASTT No-Dig Show earlier this year. Ashkan’s poster was judged among 20 North American Universities and awarded second prize! 

Ashkan’s paper looks at the importance of assuming a heavy slurry for hoop stress calculations when designing a horizontal direction drill. It also describes that external hoop stress on a pipe product during the pullback process is particularly high and the necessity of including a safety factor to the pipe analysis. Ashkan goes on to refer to data collected at several HDD installation sites and explains how the data “…identifies the need to improve design assumptions”. This type of research is applicable to many engineers designing HDD pullbacks and the increased knowledge betters the industry as a whole. 

Research papers like this one, ensure that every horizontal directional drill CCI works on is of the highest standards. At CCI & Associates, the mission continues to be to deliver service excellence in a safe and timely manner through the application of our specialized knowledge and experience. 

To see the award winning research poster click on the photo below.



CCI & Associates Attend NASTT No-Dig Show

CCI & Associates Attend NASTT No-Dig Show

Last month, CCI & Associates attended the 2018 North American Society of Trenchless Technology (NASTT) No-Dig Show in Palms Springs, California. No-Dig is the largest trenchless technology conference in North America, bringing together professionals across the spectrum of the industry to network, educate and promote the trenchless message to attendees who include; public works, contractors, engineers, utility owners, damage prevention and industrial facility personnel. With over 190 exhibitors and more than 2,200 attendees, CCI & Associates made their mark on this year’s massive show by participating as an exhibitor as well as presenting a technical paper on geotechnical issues.

Our very own Sam Wilson, Trenchless Manager, presented a technical paper outlining his findings on the auger boring method used during a railway crossing. Sam’s presentation examined the root causes of settlement and sinkhole development experienced on a 5 m high railway embankment, resulting from a guided slip bore installation of a 42-inch casing pipe. Hundreds of industry professionals were on hand to benefit from lessons learned from this best practice around of auger boring and its benefit to the drilling industry such as cost effectiveness and time efficiency. Sam concluded that a good understanding of soil conditions where auger boring is to be carried out is essential while designing these projects.

Also, during the conference, the CCI team identified a new trend in the industry regarding annular pressure (AP) technology. There were numerous presentations given by universities and industry competitors about the technology CCI has been using for the past 10 years and specifically, improving over the past 5 years. This new industry trend is good news for CCI as more clients will begin to recognize the value our AP technology can offer.

All in all, a very successful conference!

2017 Canada’s Best Managed Companies

CCI Inc. has done it again!

2017 marks another year CCI Inc. has earned the honor as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies.

For five consecutive years, CCI Inc. has been awarded the prestigious designation and proudly stands alongside hundreds of other Canadian-owned companies in various industries celebrating business excellence.

Each year hundreds of entrepreneurial companies go through a rigorous application process, but only the best is awarded with the prestigious designation. Winners demonstrate sustained and exceptional business performance in four key categories:

CCI Inc. has surpassed all these qualifications year after year and has been successful in retaining their award which makes them a Gold Standard winner! We are incredibly proud to continue to lead the HDD industry as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies.

Congratulations to all CCI Inc. employees and contractors who work diligently to make this award possible each year!

World Pipelines HDD Discussion

Pushing boundaries to protect water

Northern Courier’s remarkable construction

Now, more than ever, the way pipelines are built around rivers, lakes and other important water bodies is something people care a lot about. So keeping northern Alberta’s biggest and longest river safe with challenges, such as steep banks, sensitive ecology and a harsh climate, was of utmost importance to the engineers working on TransCanada’s recently completed Northern Courier Pipeline Project.

The team had to think creatively and put the latest technology and pipeline construction innovations to work on the 90-kilometre (56-mile) project, which officially received product and began operations in late January 2018.

“The Athabasca River is a protected area and by doing an HDD we were able to stay out of that protected area,” said Tim Smith, pipeline project manager, Northern Courier Pipeline Project.

Challenging sections to overcome

The pipeline project had some particularly challenging sections along its route, including eight major crossings under large water bodies and busy roads. In order to complete these crossings safely and with minimal impact to the environment, additional planning and thought was required to determine the best approach.

While the team didn’t set out to break any records, their work received international recognition for their use of “trenchless” crossing techniques that allow pipe to be installed underground with minimal impact to surface resources.

“A horizontal directional drill (HDD) provides the benefit of being able to go underground without disturbing sensitive areas,” says Smith. “In this particular case the Athabasca River is a protected area, environmentally, and by doing an HDD we were able to stay out of that protected area and minimize our impact on the environment.”

Longest 42-inch-wide HDD completed in North America

The HDD project completed under the Athabasca River turned out to be the longest 42-inch-wide HDD completed in North America to date at 2,195 metres (7,200 feet), in order to install the pipeline 70 metres below the riverbed. HDD is a technique that TransCanada frequently uses for major water crossings because it avoids in-stream work during construction and places the pipe below the riverbed.

Along with our contractors Michels and CCI Inc., the Northern Courier team’s Athabasca River crossing was awarded the 2016 Project of the Year by the North American Society for Trenchless Technology(Northwest Chapter), a society dedicated to promoting the benefits of trenchless technology for public awareness through education, training and research.

“This was a high honour in the world of trenchless crossing technology,” Smith said. “It meant a lot to those of us who work day in and day out to install pipelines in a way that minimizes the environmental impact while delivering the energy products our society needs.”

2017 Northwest Trenchless Project of the Year

Congratulations to the Pembina Pipeline Corporation and CCI Inc. on being awarded the 2017 Northwest Trenchless Project of the Year for the Athabasca River Parallel HDD Installations Project!

Pembina Pipeline Corporation (Pembina) proposed the design and construction of the Phase III Expansion, which follows and expands segments of Pembina’s existing pipeline systems from Taylor, British Columbia to Edmonton, Alberta. The core of the Phase III Expansion Project was the Fox Creek to Namao (FCN) construction which involved the installation of parallel NPS 16 (406.4 mm) and NPS 24 (609.6 mm) pipelines within a shared right-of-way (ROW). Both new pipelines were design to transport high vapour pressure (HVP) products, and increased transport capacity by 170,000 bpd and 500,000 bpd, respectively. With the parallel installations complete and placed into service on June 16, 2017, Pembina now has four (4) pipelines within the Fox Creek to Namao corridor which allow them to transport four (4) distinct hydrocarbon products (propane-plus, ethane-plus, condensate, and crude oil) within segregated pipelines.

The new parallel installations are 286 km long and transport products from Fox Creek to existing processing facilities in the Edmonton, Red Water, and Fort Saskatchewan areas. Within the acquired ROW, the two (2) pipelines crossed numerous watercourses, roads, and surficial features. CCI Inc. (CCI) was engaged by Pembina in 2014 and worked closely with our client through to the end of construction in 2017. Construction of the horizontal directionally drilled (HDD) crossings began in August of 2016 and was completed in April 2017. CCI’s scope of work included 68 detailed crossing designs at 34 crossing locations, including stress analysis, annular pressure modelling, feasibility assessments, and risk assessments. Along with engineering, CCI completed geotechnical investigations at a majority of the crossing locations and at all of the major watercourse crossings. Throughout the duration of the HDD design and construction, CCI provided contract support, assisting with the tender process, contractor negotiations, clarifications, and award. During HDD construction, CCI assisted with cost tracking for the HDD activities and provided knowledgeable HDD Inspectors to act as the Client Representative on site for the duration of HDD activities.

One of the most difficult major crossing locations on the FCN project was the Athabasca River, located approximately 8 km north of Whitecourt, Alberta. The NPS 24 and NPS 16 crossings of the Athabasca River were 1,552 m and 1,462 m in length, and required finished borehole diameters of 24” and 36”, respectively.

An extensive geotechnical program was completed at the crossing, with seven (7) boreholes completed along the crossing alignment. These boreholes identified surficial materials of sand, clay, clay (till), and gravel. The gravel identified was extensive, on both the north upland (exit location) and within the valley bottom to the south (entry location). The two (2) boreholes on the north upland identified a significant difference in the thickness of the gravel layer, prompting the completion of an additional geophysical program which utilized electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) in an attempt to define the gravel layer and assist with determining the ideal exit location and the requirements for surficial casing during construction. Bedrock at the crossing location consisted primarily of mudstone and sandstone, with some if it described as fractured and water bearing at or above rig elevation. Utilizing this geotechnical date, CCI’s geotechnical department created a no drill zone (NDZ) which provided a minimum 37 m of cover beneath the lowest point in the river channel thalweg, putting the drill at least 15 m into competent bedrock. The NDZ also maintained the drill at or below 640 m geodetic elevation as it passed beneath the current river channels and the active flood plain.

Final detailed HDD designs included 35 m of NPS 48 (1219.2 mm) and NPS 36 (914.4 mm) casing on entry and 50 m of casing at the exit locations. Both crossings followed similar drill paths and utilized moderately high entry (18°) and exit (16°) angles (based on industry standards) to reduce the length of casing required. The NPS 24 installation was designed 3 m deeper than the NPS 16, and extended 50 m longer than the NPS 16 on entry and exit to accommodate equipment layout and drilling operations to occur concurrently within a shared workspace. The drills were offset horizontally to meet Pembina’s specification for minimum separation requirements, allow for adequate steering tolerances, and minimize the risk of fluid communication between the drills. The geometry of the drills included approximately 80 m of elevation gain from entry to exit, and 120 m of total elevation change from the bottom tangent to the exit location.

Both drills were designed utilizing intersect methodology due to the casing requirements at entry and exit. Annular pressure analysis was run from both the entry and exit locations, and it was identified that expected downhole drilling pressures during the pilot holes quickly exceeded the strength of the overburden formation when drilling from the exit location due to the large elevation change in the topography. Due to this, the intersects were planned within the exit tangent of the drills, with a large portion of the pilot hole being completed from the lower entry side.

Pipe section layout utilized additional workspace to facilitate the layout of both the pipelines, travel, and required pipe support equipment. The NPS 24 utilized two (2) pipe sections, which required a stoppage during pipe pullback operations to complete the closure weld, inspection, and coating. Due to the high exit angle of both drills, additional support equipment was necessary for the safe support of the sections, which reached a maximum height of 9 m within the overbend.

The planned construction schedule included very aggressive timelines due primarily to environmental requirements which restricted access and construction to a set operational window. The schedule involved four (4) rigs to be mobilized and utilized for drilling operations of the NPS 16 and NPS 24 pipelines concurrently. Direct Horizontal Drilling (DHD) was contracted by Pembina to complete the construction of the HDD crossings, including casing installation and extraction. Mobilization to the prepared work pads began in August 2016. Entry and exit rig spreads were setup simultaneously with two (2) full spreads, including mud cleaning and recycling equipment. Specifications for the rigs utilized can be found below.

NPS 16 Entry / NPS 24 Entry
• Pullforce – 1,100,000 lb·f
• Rotary Torque – 100,000 ft-lbs
• Pump Capacity – 6 cm/min

NPS 16 Exit / NPS 24 Exit
• Pullforce – 440,000 lb·f
• Rotary Torque – 60,000 ft-lbs
• Pump Capacity – 5 cm/min

Surface casing (NPS 48 and NPS 36) was successfully installed on entry to 29 m, where a competent formation was encountered, slightly shorter than the proposed 35 m. On exit, NPS 60 and NPS 48 casing were installed, sized up from the required minimum diameter to allow for the use of telescoping in the event the casing could not be installed to the required depth without employing this methodology. Exit casing was initially installed to lengths of 66 m and 64 m, exceeding the recommended 50 m due to the variance in the gravel formation on exit.

The NPS 24 drilling activities began prior to the NPS 16, and the 12 ¼” pilot was completed with minimal problems. There were delays when the entry rig had to wait for exit casing installation to be completed so the intersect could be attempted. Once exit casing was complete the exit rig drilled to 166 m, where it intersected the entry pilot in 5 hours. The first ream pass enlarged the borehole to 24”, leaving a plug at exit to ensure borehole stability, followed by a 36” final ream. During the 36” ream the borehole started to produce water at 5m3/hr, and the rig was shut down for a period due to warm conditions, rain, and access restrictions caused by the sloppy conditions. After a final wiper pass, pipe pull was successfully completed with a maximum pullforce of 115,000 lbs·f, indicating a clean borehole free of cuttings.

The NPS 16 drilling began and encountered fluid losses to the parallel bore at approximately 540 m MD from entry. Once the intersect was completed, the bore began producing water to the entry location at a variable rate from 5-7 m3/hr for the duration of the drill. The shutdown due to weather conditions occurred during pilot immediately after completing the intersect, and resulted in high rotary and stuck drill string. Multiple mitigation strategies were employed to retrieve the string, drilling a second pilot hole parallel to the stuck pipe from exit, use of a downhole hammer on the drill pipe, and using hydraulic casing jacks. After 10 days of attempting to retrieve the stuck drill pipe, it was determined that the string was unrecoverable and both rigs rotated out of the drill string, retrieving approximately 590 m of drill pipe on entry and 170 m of drill pipe on exit, abandoning the remaining drill pipe in the hole. A packer was set from entry and grout was injected into the abandoned hole from the exit location in an attempt to stop the water flow. Due to the amount of drill pipe retrieved, the existing entry and exit casing were still able to be utilized for the second attempt at pilot hole. Both the entry and exit redrills were successful in side-tracking out of the existing hole once outside the casing. After the second successful intersect, issues arose when attempting to trip both bits out to exit, after discussion it was determined that collapsed cobbles at the end of the casing were resulting in deflecting the bottom hole assembly (BHA) outside of the casing. Additional casing was installed on exit from 64 m to 68 m, and the BHA was successfully pushed out to exit and reaming operations commenced.

DHD began forward reaming 24” to approximately 500 m when the rotary torque increased significantly and the exit rig twisted off the reamer. Both rigs tripped to surface with the exit rig retrieving the tail string with a failure just beneath a tool joint and the entry rig successfully retrieving the reamer. The BHA was tripped across the hole to exit and encountered problems getting into the exit casing again, additional casing was installed to 87 m and additional attempts to push out the bit to exit were made. At this time, due to extreme weather conditions, bans were in place on the access roads preventing heavy loads and limiting vacuum trucks and drill pipe loads. Consideration was given to tripping the exit BHA to entry however; the road bans prevented mobilizing drill pipe and managing fluid returns to entry. After 3 days and multiple attempts to get the entry BHA out of the exit casing, road bans were lifted, allowing the Contractor to mobilize drill pipe from exit to entry to trip the BHA in from the exit to entry, and bits are quickly tripped through the borehole and successfully pushed out on entry. The 24” ream was quickly completed, along with a successful wiper pass. After multiple construction issues and mitigation strategies, failures and successes, the NPS 16 pipeline was installed with no issues during pullback operations and a maximum pullforce of 98,300 lbs·f.

Entry casings for both the NPS 16 and NPS 24 drills were successfully removed, exit casing removal attempts were unsuccessful and drills were cemented at entry and exit to restrict production of water from hole and to seal the exit casing abandoned in the hole.

We would like to thank the entire project team for combining their efforts and utilizing their experience and expertise, resulting in the successful installation of both the NPS 24 and NPS 16 HDD’s.

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CCI Inc. Acquires Texas Based Horizontal Technology Inc.

CCI Inc. announced that it acquired Houston based Horizontal Technology, Inc. one of the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) industry’s premier guidance service and down-hole tooling providers.

Headquartered in Alberta, Canada, CCI Inc. is a leading expert in HDD, open-cut and microtunneling methods. Since 2004, CCI has established itself as a driving force in the continued advancement of trenchless pipeline systems and employ proven methods for tackling difficult crossings.

“This amalgamation of industry expertise will offer a highly technical 360-degree approach to the pipeline, oil and gas and municipal infrastructure sectors,” says David Dupuis, COO of CCI Inc. “The combined service offering to our clients and contractors will help to move the industry forward with innovation and enhanced service.”

The acquisition will allow CCI to, in addition to providing steering and readers, offer engineering, environmental (mud disposal) and geotechnical services.

“It is a great move for Horizontal Technology Inc., both for our employees and our clients. CCI has always been one of our industry’s most professional engineering firms,” said John English, president and founder of Horizontal Technology Inc. “Adding their vast engineering capabilities to our existing tools and services will provide an avenue of improved value to our clients. The engineering and environmental components of our combined services allows contractors to extend the scope of projects for which they can compete. I am confident this deal will make many of our clients more profitable.”

Both companies will retain their names and the U.S. and Canadian offices for both firms will remain open as is.

2016 Canada’s Best Managed Companies

CCI Inc. announced today it has once again requalified as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies. CCI won its initial Best Managed award in 2013 and has successfully retained its status, becoming a Gold Standard winner in 2017! Considered the “go-to” company for designing and constructing trenchless crossings – the most difficult and technical part of projects, CCI continues to be a leader in the industry attributing its success to its sound business strategy of zero failures and highly technical professionals and skilled “360° Team”.

“CCI is tremendously proud to continue to be among such a worthy field of Canadian business success stories,” said David Dupuis, Chief Operating Officer at CCI Inc. “We credit our talented pool of highly qualified technical people as the key to being able to deliver stellar results, project after project.”

Canada’s Best Managed Companies continues to be the mark of excellence for Canadian-owned and managed companies with revenues over $15 million. Every year since the launch of the program in 1993, hundreds of entrepreneurial companies have competed for this designation in a rigorous and independent process that evaluates their management skills, practices, strategy and ability to execute.

CCI Inc. is a leading expert in Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD), Open-Cut and Micro-Tunneling methods. Since 2004, we have established ourselves as a driving force in the continued advancement of trenchless pipeline systems and employ proven methods for tackling difficult crossings. CCI provides award winning, highly technical services to the pipeline, oil & gas and municipal infrastructure sectors including: Engineering, Construction Management, Environmental and Geotechnical Services, Forestry Planning & Reclamation Services.

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