Mackenzie valley pipeline - some detailed considerations.

The CBC news last night had a gentleman on telling us about the plans for the Mackenzie Valley pipelines. I don’t know if it was for entertainment purpose or just off the wall discussion. Certainly it wasn’t journalism!

Let’s keep sight of the prize! The ethane for plastic manufacture is much sought after and is arguably the most valuable component of natural gas, more so than the hydrogen heating components. At no point do I see plans for a northern gas processing plant!

On the item discussed of “the pipeline will be buried”. This opens a book of conversation and reading. The permafrost in the NWT has been deteriorating at a rapid pace over these past several years. After ’63 as was this person’s reference point for arctic ice comparison. R. Angus built a modern shop in Inuvik, NWT. (Now owned by Finning Tractor)

The shop is a masterpiece of northern construction. Culverts were dug into the ground with ends open to allow cold air to get down low under the building during the extended cold months. Then gravel was layered followed by Styrofoam a foot thick. On top of this the concrete pad was poured and the building built.

After all these 20 years there is only a little bit of shifting and settling of the building, a few inches here and there.

By contrast, new buildings are being abandoned because they did not have the preparation and the buildings sank into the muskeg. Still others were abandoned during construction as they sunk faster than they could build them. (Today is -40 degrees in Inuvik)

This is in the upper latitudes of the pipeline.

The lower latitude that of Hay River, NWT has its own story where houses built in another age are sinking into the muskeg when tree cover was removed. Also at Hay River a “syncrolift” was built. A large hole was excavated from the shore line into the bank of the lake. This tore up the permafrost.

The insulated concrete box was built into this excavation and it was re filled.

The idea of a “syncrolift” is to float boats into this lock (box) settling it on movable beds. Then, a cable system lifts the boat up on this internal platform where work can be done on the hull. Cabling from the top sides pulled the sides in; extensive anchors didn’t help!

You have seen other versions in ships where the work ship sinks into the ocean and the water is pumped out to provide the dry dock.

Within two years the permafrost not only had not recovered it had further deteriorated. Liquid nitrogen was pumped down into and around the lift to freeze the ground. This was met with limited success and the lift use was discontinued.

In Tuktoyaktuk, Canmar had a drilling plantform set up and it had to be constructed on an insulated base which again did not remain stable over the long term. They found static electricity to be of a great concern because of very large “ice lens” under ground at various levels. These ice lens (multi) acted like electrical insulators promoting the storage of static electricity. To digress; the core samples brought up had “brand new” wood from logs measuring 30” in diameter from another age, far below the surface.

When the ground was thawed it had the consistency of “dirty water”

The fellow on CBC saying the pipe lines would be buried under ground is just nonsense unless they are elastic or have 120% expansion joints in the lines. Concrete anchors just are not going to work, nor is any amount of insulation at the lower latitudes!

Once that permafrost is opened, it will deteriorate at a very fast rate and is virtually uncontrollable. I have a picture of many kilometers of pipe pulling out of the bank, concrete anchors and all and ending up in the Mackenzie along with a large part of the terrain, making the river un-navigable.

This Gentleman (I assume tongue in cheek) said if the pipeline fails he would look to pressurized natural gas tankers in the Mackenzie delta serving the world. This is just plain nuts, some one speculating on things they know nothing about. The Mackenzie delta is a river delta that is navigated by river channels as is any river in the word! It would be impossible to get such a ship into the Delta let alone take it out with a load!

I’m looking for a job helping the Mackenzie valley pipeline and may be contacted at:
John Clark (external - login to view)
URL Mackenzievalley pipeline

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