Remember NASA's Space Shuttle Endeavour trucking from LAX to its museum retirement home at California Science Center? The massive spacecraft — accustomed to hurtling through space at 17,000 mph — spent two days inching along its 12-mile route at no better than 3 mph.
Now imagine coordinating a larger haul: a metal vessel that's 8 feet longer, more than three times heavier, moving up to 10 times faster and going more than 27 times farther.
All using roads that are smaller, weaker and, in some cases, not there at all.
"We even went over some dirt, because of road construction," recalls Pat Zans, a Burns & McDonnell expeditor who helped coordinate the 325-mile terrestrial delivery of the tank for natural gas liquids, or NGLs. "There was only one route that we could take. We were lucky it was dry.
"If it rains, you can't bring up something like this on a country road. It'll sink."
But with the construction schedule for the new McClure Gas Processing Plant hanging in the balance, logistics personnel weren't about to let a little thing like a 532,000-pound NGL surge drum get in the way.
Enable Midstream Partners hired Burns & McDonnell in November 2012 to provide engineer-procure-construct services for a new gas-processing plant in McClure, Okla., about 100 miles west of Oklahoma City. When complete, the plant will be capable of processing up to 200 million standard cubic feet of natural gas per day.
The surge drum is a critical component for the plant. The tank — its 4-inch-thick steel skin stretching 12 feet across and 130 feet long — provides a wide point in the plant's processing system, to equalize NGL flows while gases separate for removal. NGLs then flow to Texas via pipeline for further processing and distribution, eventually to be used by companies making chemicals, plastics and other products.
But before separating any NGLs from the raw natural gas released from nearby shale formations, crews would need to get the vessel in place at the plant site, a patch of former farm property northwest of the Foss Reservoir in Custer County, Okla.
Even before Burns & McDonnell entered the project, Enable Midstream Partners already had contracted for fabrication and delivery of the drum itself. Once on the job, Burns & McDonnell engineers quickly understood just how critical the drum's placement would be in getting the plant completed on time.
Because of site constraints and space limitations, crews wouldn't be able to install some pipe racks, stacks and other equipment until after the drum's arrival. And as delays crept into the timeline — the drum's original delivery date of May 15 had to be pushed back to accommodate production changes, road construction and other factors — pressure was rising. Someone would need to coordinate schedules, contracts, equipment rentals and everything else that would affect other tasks down the road.
Enter Zans. As an expeditor in procurement for the Construction/Design-Build Group at Burns & McDonnell, Zans sent emails, worked the phones, made personal contacts, integrated schedules and reviewed contracts, eventually working weeks of arrangements into days of confirmations and, ultimately,
a single complicated trip.
Equipment? In place.
Surge drum? Loaded.
"This isn't something you can just move around with a forklift," Zans says.
The surge drum, a full 266 tons of gravitational force, rested atop two trailers and 30 axles for its journey west from a fabrication yard in southwestern Tulsa. The rolling rig stretched longer than a football field, goal line to goal line, for the trek down state highways, county roads and gravel paths. Simple 90-degree turns proved complicated, each requiring as many as four heavy-duty trucks and an average of 45 minutes.
Enable Midstream Partners and Burns & McDonnell worked together to coordinate the delivery, with Enable obtaining necessary permits and arranging for road modifications near the plant. Just a mile from the site, crews removed a tree, cut down a hill and widened a road, setting aside the displaced soil for beneficial reuse in a nearby wildlife refuge.
"We needed to solicit the help of a farmer and his John Deere tractor to make the grade at the end," says Scott Brinkmeyer, Burns & McDonnell project manager for the processing plant. "It all worked out."
The surge drum arrived at the site June 24. While the original delivery date had been pushed back a few weeks, Zans' adjustments helped the project maintain momentum. Delivery still occurred within the window necessary to keep the plant project on track.
"It was so smooth," Brinkmeyer says. "Usually, with something like this, you'd expect some hiccup to happen. It didn't. The whole thing went really smoothly."
Adds Chris Ashley, project manager for Enable Midstream Partners: "The move was a large one for Enable, and Burns & McDonnell was up to the task. Their past experiences and team approach allowed them to assess what was needed and put it in motion, delivering the equipment in a timely and safe manner."
Zans prides himself on keeping things moving. A 20-year veteran of the trucking and logistics industry, he'd already had the opportunity to arrange deliveries for plenty of critical materials, products and items of interest - including the majestic lion outside the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
The surge drum was his biggest load yet.
"It worked out," Zans says now, already onto the next procurement job. "We got a lot of ‘attaboys,' but one ‘aw, shoot' could've stopped them all. That's why it's nice. After all that work, the appreciation is a good feeling."
For more information, contact Scott Brinkmeyer, 816-822-3973.