Longwall mining operations could compromise the integrity of high pressure pipelines by way of surface subsidence and soil strains. Prior to implementing field programs for monitoring subsidence, a preliminary mitigation/stress analysis study should be designed to determine the possible effects of the longwall mining operations on the pipeline(s). If the stress analysis indicates possible high stresses beyond the allowable limits of a pipeline, then a mitigation plan should be developed and implemented. Regardless of the anticipated stress level in a pipeline, a strain monitoring program is usually recommended.
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the design of a pipeline strain monitoring program, which includes the installation of strain gages at critical locations along two adjacent pipelines. The study area includes a 12 inch diameter steel pipeline (for natural gas transport) and a 12 inch HDPE pipeline for water transport. The study area is located in a mountainous region of West Virginia.
Prior to the field program, a laboratory pilot study was performed with strain gages on a test section of HDPE pipe to determine the best mounting procedures. The field implementation program included the installation of strain gages on the gas and water pipelines. Multiplexers, data loggers, a solar array and a satellite modem for 24/7 data transfer were installed, and monitored throughout the study. During the field implementation program several meteorological and geologic events occurred which caused some design changes in the field program.