Q&D Construction facilitated the installation of 130,894 ft, or nearly 25 miles, of 12-in. coated-steel natural gas transmission pipeline from a main line valve near Willow Creek Reservoir to the Barrick Goldstrike Mine to replace propane as the fuel used for Goldstrike's gold ore processing operations. The pipeline installation work was done in a right-of-way that varies from 75 ft to 80 ft wide.

The new line is a branch off the Ruby Pipeline, a 678-mile, 42-in. interstate natural gas pipeline activated in July of 2011, originating in Wyoming and crossing through Utah, Northern Nevada and Southern Oregon to serve markets in California as well as several other Western states.

The new pipeline spur will also remedy natural gas shortages that occur regularly in Elko by storing back-up resources in the event of a shutdown on the Ruby Line.

After clearing and grubbing the right-of-way, the project team laid 40-ft-long pipe lengths end-to-end and then welded, coated and bent the pipe to follow land contours. Next, excavators dug 4-ft to 6-ft-deep trenches, added bedding and placed the pipe inside.

Q&D's team, with direction and oversight from the project owner and the Bureau of Land Management, sought to minimize impacts to greater sage-grouse habitats, cultural resources along Boulder Creek and riparian zones along China Creek by following the agreed-upon federal reclamation plan, sensitive species habitat requirements and weed-management plan along the entire pipeline corridor.

Despite the best efforts of the environmental impact study, construction teams unexpectedly encountered burrow sites of pigmy rabbits that were ultimately reviewed and protected with the help of wildlife officials.

Ultimately, the construction team funded the restoration of hundreds of acres of fire-damaged sage-grouse habitat.

To comply with pipe-construction regulations and building codes, regular X-ray inspection of welding was performed throughout the project. The team's welds never failed a single test.

"The welding success rate is very uncommon," says Doug Elder, Q&D project manager and estimator. "We had an excellent subcontractor that took their time to do quality work the first time, knowing weld failures would result in costly repairs and add time to the schedule—time we did not have."

The remote nature of the project also posed several issues during construction. Q&D put workers on 12-hour shifts and shuttled them in each day in order to reduce travel times. Subcontractors managed their own transportation needs, according to Elder.

At one point, an unexpectedly steep alignment presented itself within the path of the pipeline. After it was evident that it would not be safe to have the trenching equipment ascend the alignment, the construction team elected to bore through it. Silver State Boring, Gardenerviille, Nev., was a subcontractor on the project.

The 25-mile project was completed in less than two months.

"Overcoming the engineering challenges, remote rugged terrain, fragile natural environment and lack of a human resources in this area is impressive," said one judge.

North Elko PipelineMidas, Nev.

Key Players

Contractor Q&D Construction Inc., Sparks, Nev.

Owner Prospector Pipeline Co., Rancho Cordova, Calif.

Lead Design Wood Rodgers, Reno, Nev.

Subcontractors Silver State Boring, Gardenerville, Nev.; Tholl Fence, Sparks, Nev.; Double M Construction, Okemah, Okla.; Milbar Hydro-Test, Shreveport, La.; and WO Pipeline, Fallon, Nev.