By January 14, 2015 Read More →

Building foundations, saving money in Western Canadian oil patch

Building foundations applications include compressor stations, pipelines, lift stations, well-site buildings

Using helical screw piles for constructing well pads or building foundations saves money for oil producers and services companies, according to Roterra business development manager Calvin Vasileff.

building foundations

A Roterra excavator installing screw-piles.

With the price of crude in free fall, the oil patch is tightening its belt. Efficiency and innovation- “a better job with less” – are the name of the game in a low-price environment. In the case of Roterra, that means building better building foundations for less money.

“Based on some studies that we’ve done, I would say that typically we’re around 30 per cent cheaper than a driven pile,” said Vasileff. “Applications include compressor stations, above-ground pipelines, lift stations, well-site buildings, pumpjack and tank pads – there’s probably about a thousand different things that you could put on top of a screw pile.”

The screw-piles are manufactured at Roterra’s facility just outside Edmonton in Acheson, Alta. Fabricators weld a helix onto the bottom of the pile, which is a steel pipe engineered for the project at hand. Then a “hat” is fixed to the top of the pile. The excavator-mounted drive-head fits onto the hat and turns it like a drill. Roterra uses excavators ranging from 50,000 up to 400,000 foot-lbs. of torque.

building foundations

Screw-piles are appropriate for a wide range of building foundations, including large commercial buildings.

Vasileff says schedules are often compressed in the oil patch and that’s where screw-piles really shine.

“We can install screw-piles very quickly, even in remote locations,” he said. “We can make sure all of the engineering quality control criteria are met. Take care of logistics on-site. Then take it out to site and install it. We do everything in-house, which is a big advantage.”

Getting the engineering right is important when using screw-piles. Vasileff says Roterra’s in-house engineering team ensures the foundation is appropriate for the planned loads and soil.

Roterra began business in 1992 as a manufacturer and evolved into providing screw-piling services. The company recently added pile-driving to its repertoire in order to offer customers a complete line of foundation services.

“Both screw-piles and driven piles have their purposes depending on loads,” said Vasileff. “Depending on the job, we can use both types to save the customer money.”


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