Go Green Services Clears Pipeline Right-of-Ways....the Right Way

James Dixon and Terrell Sims had been working in the mulching business for more than a decade when an opportunity came to build their own company assisting energy contractors in clearing the way for pipeline installations. So the two land-clearing gurus enthusiastically embraced the chance to play a more intimate role alongside the new owner of an established wood-processing company — Go Green Services — when the former principal decided to pass the torch on to new leadership.

College Station, Texas-based Go Green Services was reorganized with specializations in pipeline right-of-way and location pad-clearing for energy companies, serving as both general contractor and subcontractor for pipeline installers. With 18 employees and an impressive fleet of environmental and wood-processing equipment, in just five short months, the company is currently well positioned for future growth … and Sims is optimistic about what lies ahead for the newly reorganized entity.

“Go Green Services is more than a collection of laborers and a man with a plan,” Sims says. “Our goal is to fashion ourselves as an industry leader and turnkey land-clearing solutions company. We’re able to handle projects of varying sizes and complexity; many of which are time-sensitive — primarily for exploration and production companies — by providing the reliability that a lot of other folks can’t.”

According to Dixon and Sims, the Go Green Services fleet of equipment is instrumental in helping their crews complete time-sensitive projects with greater efficiency. Headliners include two Vermeer® HG6000 horizontal grinders, supported by a cast of nine mulching rigs, two haul trucks and a track hoe. 

“The grinders we own are awesome machines,” Sims says. “These machines allow us to serve on larger-scale projects with increased efficiency versus just having mulching machines or tractors to rely on for the bulk of the work. It’s pretty awesome to watch.”

51 miles (135.2 km), 550 acres (370.3 hectares), 40 days

Go Green Services recently completed a right-of-way land-clearing job in South Texas for a 30-inch (76.2 cm) natural gas pipeline installation with stringent time constraints that necessitated a well-coordinated and highly efficient plan of attack. The job was the second phase of a 147-mile (236.6 km) pipeline install that spanned 51 miles (82.1 km) and necessitated clearing a swath approximately 90 feet (27.4 m) wide; the equivalent of approximately 550 acres (222.6 hectares) for the total project. The woody mass prevalent here is composed primarily of mesquite, blackbrush and hackberry; all of which are very hard woods and difficult to grind.

Mesquite is an extremely hard wood that can reach a height of 10 to 15 feet (3.0 to 4.6 m) although in most of its range, tends to remain shrub size. Eradicating mesquite is often difficult because the plant’s bud regeneration zone extends down to 6 inches (15.2 cm) below ground level and can regenerate from a piece of root left in the soil. Mesquite, in combination with the bushy, shrub-like blackbrush is often difficult to remove and also hard to grind. In addition to the tough wood fibers, the Go Green Services team also encountered wetlands, rocks, water crossings and occasional roadways along the route, all of which tend to inhibit production efficiencies.

The first and second phases of the job were completed by Pumpco, Inc., a pipeline construction contractor based in Giddings, Texas. With more than three decades of experience in the pipeline construction and right-of-way business, Pumpco has established a loyal customer base composed primarily of energy companies, including Texas-based Energy Transfer Company, project owner of the project completed by Go Green Services and Pumpco, originating in McMullen County, Texas. Energy Transfer owns and operates a diversified portfolio of assets in the natural gas, natural gas liquids and propane sectors that comprise more than 17,500 miles of pipeline and related facilities in several states.

Go Green Services selected a Vermeer HG6000 horizontal grinder to serve as the workhorse for the project, with additional support from two mulching units. The project owner and contractor also jumped into the act; providing dozers and excavators for pushing the woody mass off to the side, and subsequently feeding the fallen material into the Vermeer grinder with an excavator.

The 51-mile (82.1 km) Phase II stretch of the project was installed using the open-cut trench method. Pumpco selected a regiment of Vermeer tractor trencher models — including the T1055, T1155 and T1255 Commander®  3 series trenchers — to carve the route for the 30-inch (76.2 cm) diameter line through the tough South Texas terrain.  With production rates moving along at a favorable clip, Go Green Services was able to complete the land-clearing portion of the project in an astonishing 40 days.

“This was a very fast-paced job, simply because of the production rates we needed to achieve in order to complete the project in the specified timeframe,” Dixon says. “The contractor played an important part in helping maintain efficiencies by assisting with removal. But the capacity of the Vermeer grinder was more than enough to keep pace and it performed well. We were actually clearing about 22 acres (8.9 hectares) every day. Our experience has proven the HG6000 grinder to be a very reliable machine.”

A 4-inch (10.1 cm) screen was selected to convert the hard woody mass into a mulch amendment that was later reapplied to the top of the soil surface. The mulch plays an important sustainability role by providing organic matter and helping to control erosion. Mulch also helps protect what little moisture does fall in this region of South Texas, and provides a firm base for new grass to take root as ground cover. In addition, the mulch provides valuable organic nutrients for the soil; something that is crucial for regrowth as approximately 2 feet (0.6 m) of topsoil is usually stripped away at the point where the pipeline is installed.

“It never rains down here so anything we can do to preserve what little moisture we do receive here is very beneficial,” Sims says. “Bringing the mulch back and applying it to the stripped topsoil helps heal the surface wounds.”

Sims estimates the HG6000 grinder was fully operational approximately eight hours every day, with periodic timeouts for inspection and servicing. He says proper servicing is critical for achieving maximum production rates, and advises fellow land-clearing contractors to remain diligent in taking good care of equipment.

“We’ve been really pleased with the reliability and toughness of our grinders, yet, even the best equipment is going to break down,” Sims says. “But the frequency of such malfunctions can be minimized with proper servicing and maintenance. At the end of the day, it’s also important to have a dealer and manufacturer to rely on when something happens that can’t be fixed here.”

Environmental role models

A great deal of the growth Go Green Services has realized since the company was reinvigorated at the capable direction and vision of Dixon, Sims and the new owner can be attributed to their collective dedication to building customer relationships and responsiveness. But Sims is also quick to point out that much of their success is linked to an operational philosophy that focuses on environmental responsibility. He credits the capabilities of today’s land-clearing and wood-processing equipment for allowing their crews to operate in a sustainable way.

“While a certain amount of soil excavation is required for installing the actual pipelines, there is really no need to bulldoze the entire right-of-way,” Sims says. “We focus on land-clearing approaches that are the least environmentally invasive way to clear property. The capabilities and efficiency of our grinders and the ability to yield a product that allows for reincorporation into topsoil as a soil stabilizer are changing the way people look at land clearing.”

“It’s a step in the right direction and definitely a feather in the hat for Vermeer and the other companies that manufacture and supply us with such good-quality, reliable equipment,” Sims continues. “Mulching and grinding are becoming the norm; whereas, five, 10 years ago, it wasn’t all that popular because bulldozing, burning and burying were the norm. The land-clearing tide has certainly turned.”

One might say that the Go Green Services approach is the right way for clearing right-of-ways.


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