This paper describes the development of a unique pipeline fault crossing design upgrade for a 22-inch (559 mm) diameter Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) gas transmission line where it crosses the Calaveras fault near Sunol, California. The new design is capable of withstanding significant levels of horizontal fault offset while minimizing the deformation demands experienced by the pipeline. This unique design concept is applicable to fault crossings with well defined fault locations and highly localized fault offset profiles (e.g., for this fault, 85% of the offset is expected to occur within ±5 feet (±1.5 m) from the center of the fault trace, which was precisely located by field trenching studies). Relative to the original fault crossing design, the new design provides a more favorable “local” fault crossing angle “β” (β = 73° for the original design vs. β = 95° for the new design). The angle change is accomplished by installing an offset section of the pipeline adjacent to the fault such that the fault crosses the pipeline in the middle of a tangent section in the nearest offsetting leg. The four bends used to fabricate the offset section are cold bends with an average radius of 76.4 feet (23.3 m). The entire mitigated section of the pipeline is buried in a select sand trench. For this design configuration, right lateral fault motion results in (a) a “closing” action within the two adjacent cold bends located on either side of the fault and (b) a net tension force in the pipe (due to the obtuse β value) centered on the tangent section of the offsetting leg containing the fault crossing. The net tension force in the offsetting leg results in an “opening” action within the two adjacent cold bends on either side of the fault. By adjusting the local fault crossing angle β, the “bend opening” action that results from pipe extension across the fault can be made to nearly offset the “bend closing” action induced by the transverse component of the fault offset. The use of a select sand backfill in the retrofit section allows the bends to engage the soil with relatively low transverse and longitudinal resistance thereby enhancing the overall flexibility/compliance of the fault crossing design. Implementation of this unique design concept at the Calaveras fault crossing increased the amount of fault offset required to damage the pipeline from about 7 inches (18 cm) for the “as-built” design to well over 90 inches (2.3 m) for the retrofit.

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