From the magazine

Ploughing ahead

Murphy Pipe and Civil has been responsible for the construction of large-scale water and gas pipelines across Australia for many years, and in 2013 laid approximately 2,500 km of steel and polyethylene pipe.

As with any pipeline construction company, Murphy Pipe and Civil’s workforce reflects the level of industry activity.

In 2013 the company’s workforce numbered around 2,000 people working across three large-scale pipeline projects.

At present, Murphy Pipe and Civil has a crew of around 1,200 working on two major pipeline projects in Queensland.

Looking back to 2011; international partnerships

In 2011, 50 per cent of Australia’s Pipe and Civil Constructions was bought by the United Kingdom’s J. Murphy and Sons.

The partnership has proven to be successful, seeing a significant increase in project contracts being secured and a strong financial position.

A key driver behind the success of the partnership is the positive combination of an energetic and innovative team in Australia, which is fully supported by 66 years of international construction industry experience.

Over the past four years Murphy Pipe and Civil have developed a very strong working relationship with Fockersperger.

When the company first approached Fockersperger to discuss how Spiderploughs could be modified to suit the pipeline installation needs of Australia’s coal seam gas sector, the German manufacturing company was very receptive and eager to make it happen.

Murphy Pipe and Civil now has the largest fleet of Spiderploughs in the world.

Hitting the gas in QLD

One of the most exciting pipeline project’s the company has worked on is QGC’s Gas Gathering Project in Queensland’s Surat Basin, which forms part of the QCLNG development of natural coal seam gas (CSG) resources.

For the past four years the company’s construction workforce has been installing high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipeline to build QGC’s entire upstream gas gathering network – the largest pipeline network of its kind in Australia.

The project’s construction crew hit a major milestone in June when it notched up 3,500 km of pipeline installed on this project.

How has ploughing evolved Down Under?

While ploughing is not new to the world’s pipeline industry, it was not immediately embraced in Australia, as it was mainly viewed as more suitable to installation of smaller gauge water pipelines and fibre optic cabling.

Murphy Pipe and Civil believed that with the right modifications it could be successfully adapted to accommodate the pipeline installation needs of the CSG sector and the company’s research and development (R&D) team looked at a number of different ways this could work.

After a series of trials and extensive collaboration with Fockersperger, Murphy Pipe and Civil arrived at what is now seen in the field today, a purpose-built machine capable of installing HDPE pipe between 110 mm right up to 630 mm.

When Murphy Pipe and Civil first entered Queensland’s coal seam gas industry it was in its infancy.

The company was already working on the development of the industry’s gathering network using traditional trench and bury methods, but had a strong belief that ploughing could deliver immense benefit across a wide range of areas.

Like any new industry development it was met with some expected scepticism, but there was willingness by the main CSG players to give it a go and judge it on its merits.

The results were impressive and using plough technology to install gathering pipelines is now very much commonplace in the CSG sector.

Dedication to innovation

The company’s tagline “÷innovation in action’ is a major focus right across the business and forms a big part of the company’s culture.

The company’s open door policy for innovation has been very successful because it encourages crew members, often at the coal face where improvements can be made, to come forward with new ideas that actually result in a better workplace for them.

One of the company’s most successful innovations is the pipeline installation and loading methods when using Spiderploughs.

The company wanted to eliminate the need for manual lifting of HDPE pipe when it was being loaded into the ploughs by crews.

The R&D team developed a system which enabled crews to lower the plough’s hydraulic boom arms to ground level rather than at height so crews could load without risk of injury.

While Murphy Pipe and Civil has been integral with the R&D and successful introduction of plough technology to Australia, it has not taken its foot of the innovation pedal.

The company continues to invest in the advancement of Spiderplough technology to ensure it remains relevant and leads to industry improvement.

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