North American Oil & Gas Pipelines

JUN 2018

North American Oil & Gas Pipelines covers the news shaping the business of oil and gas pipeline construction and maintenance in North America, including pipeline installation methods, integrity management innovations and managerial strategies.

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26 North American Oil & Gas Pipelines | JUNE 2 018 Why Creating Pollinator Habitats Along Pipeline Rights-of-Way Is Good for Butterflies and the Bottom Line By Kelly Carmichael M illions of acres of pipeline right-of-way crisscross all types of ecosystems. Main- taining vegetation along this land is a constant challenge and takes time and operating budget. There are many activities required by the fed- eral government's pipeline integrity management rules that can only be done effectively with a clear path, but by us- ing a method called integrated vegeta- tion management (IVM), oil and natural gas companies can help the bottom line while aiding pollinators like monarch butterflies. The majority of rights of way are mowed or cleared on a repetitive cycle, ranging from every three to seven years. Mowing trees and shrubs, however, only controls the top of the plant and the clearing of the right of way is short- lived as the woody plants respond with vigorous re-growth to ensure their own survival. This is a constant battle that is easily lost if mowing cycle lengths grow too long. Longer mowing cycle lengths may save money in the short term, however, clearing larger trees to reclaim a right of way can be more expensive — vegetation doesn't stop growing. Long used by the electric utility indus- try, IVM is a better method to manage vegetation to produce a well-rounded and stable plant community, and is an approach NiSource and its Columbia Gas and NIPSCO subsidiaries are using to cre- ate new pollinator habitats along rights- of-way. Value of IVM to Pipeline Industry IVM can be employed on both inter- state pipelines and distribution systems to manage vegetation in a way that will facilitate inspections, testing and gen- eral maintenance without first having to clear the vegetation. Consensus industry standards describe it as "a system of man- aging plant communities in which man- agers set objectives, identify compatible and incompatible vegetation, consider action thresholds, and evaluate, select and implement the most appropriate control method or methods to achieve their established objectives." This definition contains two critical el- ements that lead to effective implemen- tation of IVM: First, delineating what vegetation is compatible and incompat- ible, and second, developing a systematic approach for building compatible plant Hail to the Monarch

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