When dealing with pipeline erosion control, one of the terms often used in the industry is “Mechanically Stabilized Earth” (“MSE”). To garner a better understanding of the issues you face when dealing with pipeline erosion control, it is in your best interest to have a firm understanding of what MSE is and how it impacts those in the oil and gas pipeline industry.
What Is Mechanically Stabilized Earth?
Mechanically stabilized earth is any soil that has been built with artificial reinforcing. Types of reinforcement can range from seawalls to retaining walls. The concept behind MSE was developed in the early 1960s, and it has become more popular as pipeline erosion control becomes a growing concern.
Why Is The Term Relevant To The Oil And Gas Industry?
When constructing a pipeline, there is significant impact to the environment. MSE helps to restore construction areas to their natural state before digging. There are a host of problems associated with erosion and runoff. Although most of these problems are environmental, they could also severely impact your pipeline project.
If running water or wind erosion removes sediment around your pipeline, the pipeline that you initially buried is now exposed to the elements. This causes numerous problems, including cracking. Broken pipelines mean expensive delays and repairs. Plus, erosion does not stop after an exposed pipeline rupture. Wind and water continue to wear away at the pipeline’s structure, exposing even more of the pipeline.
MSE is a beneficial solution because it fortifies streambanks and surrounding areas. Once strengthened, vegetation can again begin to grow. As plants grow, the likelihood of erosion and runoff is diminished quickly.
The Benefits of MSE Compared To Alternative Methods
It is worth noting that there is a clear distinction between walls reinforced with concrete and MSE, which is enhanced with soil. Studies have shown that MSE can help companies cut their erosion control costs by up to 50% and that MSE is significantly more cost-effective than concrete-reinforced retaining structures. Additionally, MSE often looks better than concrete structures and is much easier to install. In fact, Submar can often install such walls without specialized construction equipment, which cuts costs.