$122 Million Compressor Station Upgrade Will Boost Capacity and Lower Emissions

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Project manager Stella Carroll and writer Noe Hernandez, left, give perspective to the giant compressors.

A $122 million project to increase our Ray compressor station’s ability to store natural gas is on schedule and budget and without a single safety incident more than nine months into construction.

Construction on a third compressor plant at Ray, near Amada Michigan (about 50 miles northeast of Detroit), began last November to serve the needs of our 1.7 million natural gas customers. The project is part of the our plan to invest $6.4 billion in Michigan over five years. Once completed, Plant 3 will inject more natural gas into storage fields than Plants 1 and 2 combined. It also eliminates the need for us to find mostly obsolete spare parts during forced outages at Plants 1 and 2.

Project team members and construction crews celebrated nearly 53,000 construction hours without a recordable safety incident on July 20.

 “The Ray Plant 3 project team’s tenacity and fortitude is demonstrated daily through their resilience to maintain the integrity of a challenging schedule and still meet all cost targets as forecasted,” project manager Stella Carroll said. “This keeps the project on schedule and within budget.”

 “The project is approaching 55,000 construction hours without a recordable safety incident. This is a remarkable milestone based on the extreme below normal weather endured over the past six months and the constraints of a congested construction site.”

The project team initially planned to complete the project in one construction phase, but changed the construction execution plan to three phases last September to synchronize construction with the design efforts and at the same time spread resources across three years.

Construction crews completed the foundation and other preliminary site work in February. Contractor Barton Malow has set the five compressor engine skids, and plans to erect the building and install the five compressor engines this month. The company plans to test the plant next April and begin operation on March 21, 2013.

The five new compressor engines will emit 75 percent less nitrogen oxide (NOX) and 93 percent less sulfur dioxide (SOX) than currently emitted by the compressor engines at Plants 1 and 2. Ray provides about 20 percent of the company’s natural gas needs during the winter and about 41 percent of the natural gas needed on the coldest winter day.

“I’m proud of the project team for overcoming a lot of challenges while putting the building and unit foundations in during a very cold January and February,” said Don Hice, director of major projects and construction.

“We’ve had some plant design changes that we’ve been able to incorporate that will help reduce operation and maintenance costs. The project team did a good job of changing the contract philosophy to three phases, which has resulted in keeping the project on schedule and within budget.”

— By Noé Hernandez

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