The Imperial Oil Waterdown to Finch Project was a 63 km, 12-in. NPS proactive replacement of the Sarnia Products Pipeline (SPPL) from the Waterdown pump station in rural Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, to the storage facility in Toronto’s North York area.

Construction was executed from November 2020 through to mechanical completion in February 2022, with the new line in-service in April 2022. The SPPL is an important piece of infrastructure that provides products used by households and businesses across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area – Canada’s most populous metropolitan area. This includes a significant portion of jet fuel for Toronto Pearson International Airport, as well as gasoline and diesel fuel that keeps people, goods and services moving throughout the region.

The pipeline was required to cross through six major municipalities, including Hamilton, Burlington, Milton, Oakville, Mississauga and Toronto, as well as seven major freeways and six major river valley connections.

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The project required more than 1,700 agreements with landowners, businesses, regulators, regions and municipalities as well as other utility providers to name a few. It was recognized early on that a significant portion of the project would need to be trenchless.

Multiple contractors were involved in the Project, with much of the construction work being completed by Somerville Aecon Joint Venture (trench, trenchless and facilities). Other key contractors included Michels Canada, ShawCor, Resdin, UPI and Stantec. Michels and Somerville were the selected trenchless contractors.

Project of the Year New Installation Runner Up

Why Project Is Outstanding:

The total project encompassed a trenchless program that involved the completion of 35 horizontal directional drills (HDD) and 35 other trenchless drills, including numerous track and guided bores. All in, 48 percent of the project was completed by trenchless drilling, a total of 27.8 km.

These drills included Canada’s longest and second longest drills for an NPS 12 pipeline, the record setting Hidden Lake HDD at 3.5 km and the Centennial Park HDD at nearly 2.4 km. Both were intersect HDDs using Brownline’s gyro steering technology leading to successful completion. Hidden Lake was particularly challenging with known Karst formations in the region and three horizontal curves. Due to an extensive geotechnical program, construction issues were mitigated, and the Hidden Lake drill was completed ahead of schedule.

Somerville also undertook multiple single-rig drills exceeding 1.5 km and other complex drills; crossing some of Canada’s busiest 400-series highways and ecologically significant waterways, including the Humber River, Bronte Creek and two drills across East and West 16 Mile Creek.

Project of the Year New Installation Runner Up

During peak construction activity there were seven fully crewed HDD rigs active on the project as well as one track-bore or other guided-bore rig. Each rig and crew faced unique challenges. Aside from management of different geological formations and other traditional technical issues, being in a populated urban area meant that the crews also had to use noise and light abatement, access restrictions and smaller footprints than would normally be expected.

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Equally important were the supporting crews which had world-class safety and quality results that facilitated timely completion of the project. Welding crews achieved a remarkable 1.7 percent weld reject rate with only a single cutout over more than 5,000 welds. From a safety perspective, the project had exceptional participation in the leading indicator program with both Somerville Aecon Joint Venture and Michels exceeding corporate and Imperial’s expectations in Near Miss Reporting, Action Card completion and Predictive Solutions observations.

Owner: Imperial Oil (majority owned by Exxon Mobil Corp.)
Engineers: Universal Pegasus International and Stantec
Contractors: Somerville Aecon Joint Venture and Michels Canada
Equipment and Suppliers: Brownline and North Star Fluids
Value of Trenchless Project (US$): $365,000,000