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CH2M partners with Shell to transform Blue Hammock Bayou with restorative natural infrastructure

Natural solution protects Ship Shoal Pipeline and improves coastal ecosystems in Louisiana.

DENVER, Aug. 29, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- CH2M is proud to announce the creation of the first natural infrastructure project in partnership with Shell Pipeline Company LP (Shell) along the Ship Shoal corridor in Blue Hammock Bayou. This innovative new project was designed to enhance pipeline integrity and safety, reduce infrastructure costs and protect and preserve the environment.

Blue Hammock Bayou sits on the Louisiana coast, where the Ship Shoal Pipeline, a joint venture operated by Shell, runs 31-miles to deliver on average 200,000 barrels of crude oil a day from deep-water assets in the Gulf of Mexico to Louisiana. Due to natural erosive forces in Blue Hammock Bayou, the pipeline faces many challenges.

The challenges were evident. The solution was not.

  • Integrity of operating pipelines, critical regional oil and gas infrastructure and the local energy economy.
  • Coastal erosion, further driven by subsidence, sea level rise and storms.
  • Challenging maintenance requirements and rising costs.
  • Changing hydrology and sediments that threaten an ecological asset and natural habitat.
  • Increased marine traffic and potential for incident along the pipeline right-of-way.

To mitigate these challenges, Shell collaborated with CH2M to create a non-traditional approach that would add positive impacts to the coastal ecosystem. What began as a social investment project that traditionally would be solved with more grey infrastructure turned into a long-term, sustainable and visually appealing solution. The pilot project began by conducting an analysis on the coastal environment. The next step involved designing a solution that included installation of vegetation and sediment-filled erosion baskets, coir logs filled with rock and coconut fibers, as well as sediment compaction and revegetation with robust clonal species adapted to depth and energy forces. The natural infrastructure solution, now a resilient and thriving ecological asset, was completed in October of 2015.

"Applying this non-traditional approach and creating natural infrastructure projects are not only a win for Shell, but a win for the environment," said Geoffrey Gauthier, Shell Pipeline Company Operations Manager for the Offshore Gulf of Mexico Region. "It's through innovative solutions to challenging situations like this that will allow Shell to make a positive impact on the coast where we live, work and play."

In a collaborative effort supported by CH2M scientists and coastal engineers, and Shell, ongoing monitoring and assessments of the Blue Hammock Bayou are being conducted. The findings indicate that the natural infrastructure approach is already performing beyond expectations, with strong plant growth and accumulation— rather than erosion—of sediments. The sustainable solution is protective of the pipeline, has helped stabilize the marsh, and has greatly enhanced the natural habitat. These findings and the benefits of the pilot project were recently presented at the Shell Conversation Summit.

The data collected from the analysis are being compiled to identify lessons learned and best practices for use in future design and implementation solutions for other oil and gas infrastructure.

The Blue Hammock Bayou natural infrastructure project was a win for Shell, CH2M and the local communities –one that can become a model for balancing coastal infrastructure integrity and an evolving natural environment today and for generations to come.

About CH2M

CH2M leads the professional services industry delivering sustainable solutions benefiting societal, environmental and economic outcomes with the development of infrastructure and industry. In this way, CH2Mers make a positive difference providing consulting, design, engineering and management services for clients needing world-class solutions in environmental; industrial and advanced facilities; transportation; and water markets, from iconic infrastructure to global programs like the Olympic Games.

Ranked among the World's Most Ethical Companies and top firms in environmental consulting and program management, CH2M in 2016 became the first professional services firm honored with the World Environment Center Gold Medal Award for efforts advancing sustainable development. Connect with CH2M at www.ch2m.comLinkedInTwitter; and Facebook.

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