The Utopia pipeline is a 434km-long mixed-product pipeline originating in Harrison County, Ohio, US. Image courtesy of National Energy Board.
Construction of the pipeline started in November 2016, while commissioning was completed in January 2018. Image courtesy of vicki watkins.
Pipe-bending machines, bulldozers and backhoes were used for the pipeline construction. Image courtesy of Contando Estrelas.

American energy infrastructure company Kinder Morgan opened a new pipeline system named Utopia pipeline in January 2018. The 270-mile (434km)-long and 12in-diameter pipeline begins in Harrison County, Ohio, US, and transports mixed-products to Winsdor, Ontario, Canada.

Built at a cost of $500m, the pipeline has a capacity of 50,000 barrels per day (bpd), which can be extended to more than 75,000bpd with the development of additional pumping stations.

The pipeline has a life expectancy of 75 to 100 years.

Utopia pipeline route and infrastructure

The pipeline begins in Harrison County and runs through the counties of Ashland, Carroll, Stark, Tuscarawas, Wayne, Richland, Huron, Lucas, Henry, Sandusky, Seneca, Wood, and Fulton in Ohio. It meets Kinder Morgan’s Cochin Pipeline near Riga, Michigan.

The Cochin Pipeline then transports the products eastward to Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

The Utopia pipeline also includes three meter stations across its route.

Products transported by Utopia pipeline

The pipeline will transport ethane extracts from the Utica and Marcellus shales in the Appalachian Basin for the petrochemical industry as feedstock for producing plastics.

NOVA Chemical Corporation signed a long-term transportation agreement with Kinder Morgan in September 2014 for the transport of ethane extracts as feedstock for its facility located in Corunna, Ontario.

Utopia pipeline construction

Civil, cultural and environmental surveys were conducted prior to the start of construction to minimise the environmental impact. The pipeline was designed in such a way to minimise impact on wetlands, endangered species and public lands.

Construction of the pipeline began with clearing and grading of land followed by stringing, welding and laying of the pipeline into a trench. The pipeline was then covered with at least 36in of soil and the land was restored to its previous state. The construction was commenced in November 2016.

The project required a permanent easement of 50ft. Standard equipment such as pipe-bending machines and sidebooms, bulldozers, and backhoes were used during the construction.

“The pipeline will transport ethane extracts from the Utica and Marcellus shales in the Appalachian Basin.”

Cathodic protection and coatings were applied to ensure that the pipeline can operate for a long period of time.

Utopia pipeline project benefits

The Utopia pipeline aided in the creation of 900 construction jobs for locals and five full-time positions in the Ohio region.

The project is expected to create $237.3m in annual benefits for the state of Ohio, including $4.9m in tax revenues, and contribute $144.9m to Ohio’s gross state product. It is also expected to generate $87.5m through additional income and spending.

Key players

AECOM was contracted to provide detailed engineering and design services for the project.