tracer wire

Brookfield Gas Network Installation

Project: Brookfield Gas Network Installation

Location: Regional Victoria

Contractor : Brookfield Infrastructure Group

Product: Copperhead™ Tracer Wire

Project Overview

Completed in 2017, Brookfield Infrastructure Group installed a 160km pipeline network in regional Victoria to supply natural gas to eleven regional towns (Heathcote, Lakes Entrance, Orbost, Terang, Invermay, Maldon and Marong, Nathalia, Swan Hill, Robinvale and Kerang).

Key Challenges          

Up to 80% of the plastic pipeline installation was being done via horizontal directional drilling (HDD) to reduce costs and disruption to communities. However, a tracer wire needed to be used that could handle the stress of HDD installation but still enable the pipelines to be easily located. The tensile force on the standard copper tracer wires due to pulling them through the gas pipes led to a 30% break rate. Re-drilling the pipe, after a tracer wire break, is a very expensive process.

The Solution

Copperhead™ Tracer Wire

Installing a 14 gauge (1.6mm diameter) High Strength copperclad steel wire from Copperhead™ Industries resulted in a zero break rate, saving the installer considerable time and money. The tracer wire was looped through the leading islet used to connect the poly pipe to the swivel and fed back through the bore hole on the second pass with the polyethylene gas pipe.

Tracer wire looped through the leading eyelet for HDD installation.

Once installed the tracer wire system was audited for detection by Regional Development Victoria, to ensure it was properly installed. Thanks to this product there were no wire breaks during the 160km installation and 100% detection.

Copperhead™ Waterproof Connectors

The single lug twist connectors used to join tracer wire ends are simple but effective. The plastic connectors internally contain a contact encased in silicone gel.

The tracer wire ends are stripped of the plastic insulation, pushed into the connectors, and twisted. A strong mechanical join is created. Up to five 1.6mm tracer wires can be joined in a single connector this way.

Rhino™ Soil Markers & A Tags

In urban environments, a visual marker is needed to indicate where the pipelines are buried. In this case, bright yellow plastic markers were used, instead of metal signs and posts that are usually installed in Australia. The bright yellow plastic is highly visible, robust and economical. Soil Markers™ have a 100mm diameter head and a tamper proof spike for marking the grass verge. A Tags are the size of a 50 cent piece and are glued into a counter sunk hole on the kerb to mark road crossings. These solutions are most commonly now installed in North America.

The Outcome

The Copperhead™ “High Strength” tracer wire system, including water proof connectors, provides a locating solution for the full length of the gas pipeline, insulated to last the life of the pipeline and strong enough to withstand the stress of installation. The High Strength copperclad steel wire is designed specifically for trenchless installation. with six times the tensile strength of the equivalent copper tracer wire and the same conductivity. Once installed the tracer wire system was audited for detection by RDV, to ensure it was properly installed. No wire breaks were detected along the entire route.

Overall, the trenchless installers preferred the Copperhead™ system, as it was easy to use and installed the first time, every time. During the location auditing, the Copperhead™ tracer wire was not only easily located when connected to an EM locator, it was also locatable inductively for up to 200m.

The Rhino™ Soil Markers & A Tags provided a cost effective physical marking solution that is highly visible, while quick and easy to install.

Copperhead™ wire being installed with 67mm pe gas pipe via HDD. Kerang, Victoria