Taking the direct route to market
When Innovative Pipeline Crossings Inc. (IPC) was founded in 2013, in Calgary, Canada, it was done so on the basis of a vision of revolutionizing the country’s pipeline industry through the introduction of a unique technology known as Direct Pipe®. Developed in Germany, the technology combines the benefits of Microtunneling and HDD drilling techniques, with a partnership between pipe thrusters and tunneling machine that allows for the simultaneous excavation of the borehole and installation of the pipe in one step. This technology has opened up a host of new possibilities for the trenchless installation of pipelines.
“During the first few years of IPC’s existence, the company took the time to execute several projects using Direct Pipe® technology,” explains IPC’s Chief Executive Officer, Peter Hennig. It was Peter and his teams’ arrival in 2016, as part of a key managerial change, that set in motion the transformation of IPC from being a start-up business to becoming a professional tunneling contractor. “Since 2016, we have executed a number of Direct Pipe crossing projects for blue-chip clients, such as Transcanada Pipeline and Enbridge, and this work helped to turn the financial year 2017-18 into a very successful one for IPC.”
It was this success that also assisted in bringing IPC to the attention of the pipeline industry, with a number of players soon showing an interest in acquiring the company. This ultimately resulted in the amalgamation of IPC with Bothar Group PTY LTD (Bothar), a global leader in the tunneling and trenchless construction industry.
“Bothar has almost 30 years of cuttingedge expertise in the trenchless contracting industry, with active operations in ten countries and almost 1000 employees of 28 different nationalities globally,” Peter continues. “One market that it was still seeking entry to, however, was North America, with the group looking for a route to new clients via a well-established local business, which is what IPC provided. With Bothar, we immediately recognized them as having many of the same characteristics and qualities that IPC has come to embrace, including taking a hands-on approach to their work, having people who have a clear passion for what they do, and a can-do attitude that runs throughout the business.”
Peter is happy to admit that prior to the amalgamation with Bothar, IPC had made a respectable name for itself as something of a ‘one-trick-pony’, being entirely focused on bringing Direct Pipe® technology to the market in North America. “A fundamental aim following the management change in 2016 was to establish IPC as the market leader in Direct Pipe® installations within the pipeline industry. However, we have now reached the point where we want to expand our reach, and joining up with Bothar allows us to do this by giving us access to a broader range of equipment, technologies, know-how and resources, as part of a global network.
“Since the amalgamation, we have become much more capable when it comes to serving our two main markets, these being oil and gas, and power and utilities, the latter which we class as the infrastructure sector. In the case of the former, we have a strong legacy of working with some of the largest energy providers in North America, while in the field of infrastructure we have had the opportunity in recent times to work with the likes of Enmax, which is the grid provider in Calgary. With the tools we now have at our disposal, we can serve these clients on a much broader scale, while also targeting some of the larger infrastructure providers and municipalities in places such as Ontario, Vancouver, and Alberta.”
The very nature of the complex horizontal drilling projects that IPC undertakes means that the work carried out is typically of a high risk, challenging nature, and IPC takes great pride in being fully transparent with its clients as to what each project entails and what it will take to deliver it as required. “We work closely with every client to optimize their designs and crossings so as to provide savings wherever possible, while always working to go beyond the horizon of the actual scope of work,” Peter states. “Our highly professional and knowledgeable teams also give us the ability to step in at extremely short notice to remedy some of the most challenging situations where other technologies have failed, and this lends huge credibility to the IPC name.
“We also endeavor to maintain the same kind of transparent, close working relationship that we have with our clients, with our contractors, subcontractors and vendors. We operate in a highly professional environment where there is no room for amateurs, which is why we work with international and regional leading companies, such as the likes of Herrenknecht, Tunnel Service Group, Energy Crane Services – which provide expert hoisting, rigging, lift planning and transportation services, and Myshak Crane and Rigging, which support IPC during their project execution. We look to involve such companies at an early stage of our projects, with their own experience and highly educated crews helping with particular installation methods, to ensure that we manage our schedules effectively.”
It is of general consensus that Canada’s oil and gas sector, as well as its infrastructure industry, continue to bear the potential for billions of dollars in growth opportunities, and while IPC recognizes the desire to dream big, they also understand the need to grow gradually as a company. “As a team, and as part of the Bothar Group of Companies, we have a very clear growth strategy, one that understands that this is a market that is aching for quality competition when it comes to services like Microtunneling, Pipe Jacking, Auger Boring and Direct Pipe® installations,” Peter adds. “We wear the term ‘innovative’ proudly within our name, and one of our strongest wishes is to continue to introduce new technologies, methodologies, and construction and execution strategies to the market.
“We also want to create new employment opportunities for Canadians. I have had the pleasure of working with a large number of well educated, passionate and dedicated people in my time with IPC, and for me it showcases the potential this country has when it utilizes its workforce. This is one of a whole host of reasons why we at IPC believe that a bright future lies ahead for us.”
Products: Microtunneling, Pipe Jacking, Auger Boring and Direct Pipe®