Construction of the shoreside components of PacWave South started on June 1, 2021. Most of the activity will be focused on the Driftwood Beach State Recreation Site area in Seal Rock.
The project involves horizontal directional drilling beneath the ocean shore to pass subsea cables deep under the beach to the park. The project will not disturb the beach but will temporarily close the Driftwood Beach State Recreation Site to motor vehicles. Information about the park is online at http://bit.ly/driftwoodbeachoregon.
Regular construction updates will be posted here and this schedule will be regularly updated. If you wish to receive construction updates via email, or have questions or concerns, please send an email to email@example.com.
01/04/22 – It has been quiet at both Driftwood and the UCMF sites over the holiday season as the crews took a well-earned break.
Prior to the holidays, great progress was made on the terrestrial bore, but the work is not yet complete. We are within a few feet of making the intercept between the Driftwood bore and the UCMF bore, and have reamed almost 75% of the total bore to its final diameter in preparation for the installation of the cable conduits. However, we have encountered some gravel and cobble geology that was not expected, and this is creating some challenges. While not an uncommon occurrence, it means that the project team are reassessing how to most effectively address the issue. When drilling through gravel and cobble, there is a risk that drilling mud (a non-toxic mixture of water and bentonite clay) can escape into the geology. It then has the potential to make its way to the surface. Unfortunately this occurred just before the holiday break when some drilling mud appeared in the bottom of Friday Creek, just south of the Driftwood parking lot. The HDD Company quickly identified the issue and the location of the mud, and drilling was stopped immediately. The amount of drilling mud that reached the surface was small and has largely dissipated due to the heavy rains. OSU and The HDD Company personnel are working with staff from Oregon State Parks and other agencies to develop a plan to move forward, and a natural resource specialist has been monitoring the area over the holidays. No additional mud has appeared since the initial event.
Once a plan has been developed, the final section of the terrestrial bore will be completed and the conduits will be installed.
Over the next couple of weeks, the team will be conducting some additional geophysical surveys to better understand the geological situation so we can develop a suitable path forward. Activity on the sites will be gradually ramping up again as we move into the new year with the focus at Driftwood transitioning to the civil construction and rebuilding the park.
Yesterday, in preparation for the civil construction at Driftwood, the crew started to remove the shipping container wall around on the site to allow for the replacement of the old sidewalks around the parking lot. Note: Driftwood Beach State Park remains closed to vehicles at this time. Pedestrian access to the beach remains open. For safety reasons, pedestrians are asked to keep out of the construction areas.
12/04/21 – At Driftwood, the 30-inch conductor casing that runs along the first 195 feet of the terrestrial bore has been installed. This was achieved by drilling a pilot hole and then gradually opening it up to a final diameter of 38 inches (top left). The casing was then pushed into the hole section by section using the drill rig (top middle), with each new section being welded to the one already in the hole. The bottom of the casing had been plugged with cement before it was installed to stop it from digging into the walls of the borehole. Before drilling could commence, the cement plug was drilled out (top right).
At the end of the day on Friday, 12/3, the crew had pilot drilled 1,130 feet and had reamed 682 feet of this length to a diameter of 22 inches. Drilling and reaming will continue with the aim of hitting the intercept point under highway 101 in the next few days (bottom left).
Drilling at the UCMF end of the terrestrial bore has been completed with the pilot hole running 926 feet to under the western side of Highway 101. All of this has also been reamed to 27 inches. The drill rig has been moved off the borehole and the site is being prepped for the intercept and the conduit pull in (bottom middle and right). We hope this will be completed before Christmas. But there is still a way to go, and things may change.
11/20/21 – Terrestrial drilling operations from the UCMF site towards Driftwood continue (top left). Progress has been slow, but the borehole has now reached the western side of Highway 101, which is where the intercept will happen. The crew are now widening the hole.
Meanwhile at Driftwood, the HDD2 and HDD3 conduits have been grouted in place (top middle) and the mud pits have been filled in until work starts on the vault. The 750 drill rig has been demobilized from Driftwood (top right) and the 440 rig has been moved onto the access road (bottom left) so all the equipment that is no longer needed can be removed from the site.
Today the 440 will be moved back on site and drilling towards the intercept point should start next week. Drilling operations will likely continue through to mid- to late-December. Once the terrestrial conduits are installed, the focus will shift to the civil construction work at Driftwood.
Site preparation at the UCMF is slowly winding down. A culvert has been installed down by Highway 101, conduits have been installed under the highway (bottom middle), and a barn on the property has been demolished (bottom right).
All work has continued despite the recent extremely wet weather. However, the rain has created muddy conditions on both sites and occasionally challenging conditions on NW Wenger Lane. R&G Excavating and The HDD Company are maintaining the roadway as best as they can and will continue to do so until it can be paved. We appreciate everyone’s patience.
11/11/21 – At 2:30pm today, the last section of our offshore conduit was pushed into the ground (Photograph: Diana Worthen, Jacobs Engineering Group). After 163 days of horizontal directional drilling operations, the installation of all four of the PacWave South offshore conduits has been successfully completed. With over 1.25 million lbs. of steel conduit installed, totaling over 4 miles in length, it has been a massive undertaking. A sincere congratulations to all those involved, especially the construction crews who have worked tirelessly for months on end, most recently in extremely challenging conditions, to safely complete this phase of the work. Our focus now switches to the terrestrial bore!
10/28/21 – Some stormy weather on the coast has not prevented the project from making good progress at both the Driftwood site and the UCMF site on NW Wenger Lane.
In spite of the weather, The HDD Company managed to arrange some critically important offshore diver work on 10/19. To make use of a very short weather window when sea conditions were safe for diving operations, Dead Calm Seas had their divers in the water well before dawn. Their verification of the drill punch out on HDD2 and HDD3 was completed by 11am and the dive vessel returned to port before the weather deteriorated once again (top left).
At Driftwood, we are now preparing to install our conduit. We started pushing the conduit into the HDD3 borehole today and hope to be finished this weekend (top middle and right). While we are not planning any nighttime activity during the conduit installation, we are prepared to switch to 24-hour operations if the conduit starts to get hard to push. NOTE: If we need to work late, or work overnight, we will send out an email notification to the neighbors near the Driftwood site. As with our previous conduit push-in operations, only limited equipment is needed so noise levels should not be an issue. However, we will monitor sound levels if we work at night.
Today should also see the start of preliminary drilling operations at the UCMF site. A Vermeer 220 drill rig has been set up at that site and over the next couple of days, the crew will be installing about 200 feet of steel conductor casing, through which they will then drill and ream the borehole down to an underground point near Highway 101 (bottom row). Once that is complete, the American Augers 440 drill rig at Driftwood will drill towards the UCMF and intercept the borehole at the highway.
Also today, R&G Excavating and Seal Rock Water District will be connecting our new waterline to the UCMF location, which also serves some of the neighbors. R&G are also continuing to improve the road and drainage systems and will soon start work at the intersection of Wenger Lane and Highway 101.
10/16/21 – Great progress has been made with our offshore HDD bores at Driftwood since the last update.
Just before noon on Saturday 10/9, HDD2 punched out at the seafloor 5,241 feet away from the drill rig. The following Friday (10/15), HDD3, our final offshore bore, also punched out with a total length 5,170 feet. While this mean that all four of our offshore bores have been successfully drilled, we still need to install the conduit to complete HDD2 and HDD3.
Conduit installation cannot start until divers have inspected the offshore end of the bores and the weather is not cooperating. We are watching the forecast closely and hoping for a weather window so we can mobilize the divers and move to the final phase of the offshore bores.
In the meantime, The HDD Company is beginning to prepare for terrestrial bore between Driftwood and the UCMF property on NW Wenger Lane. Equipment will likely start arriving at the UCMF site in the next day or two and will continue to arrive into next week. This will include some shipping containers to act as sound walls (like we have at Driftwood).
Initial operations at the UCMF site will include the installation of a steel casing, which will run down into the ground. Drilling operations will likely start around the end of this month. As previously mentioned, we will be using the intercept method for the terrestrial bore, with rigs drilling from either end of the bore alignment. However, drilling from the Driftwood end cannot start until the conduit has been installed on HDD2 and HDD3. So the terrestrial bore is also indirectly at the mercy of the offshore weather.
R&G Excavating have been making good progress at the UCMF property and have the site largely finished, most of the roadbed prepared and most of the utilities installed. There is still work to do, but the focus should soon start shifting to the Highway 101 end of Wenger Lane.
10/02/21 – Steady progress has been made with our offshore HDD bores at Driftwood since the last update.
Drilling on HDD2 started on 9/1, and by late on 9/30 the crew had drilled out to 4,940 feet. This is about a week less than it took them to drill out a similar distance on HDD1. The faster progress was expected and was likely due to the drillers having learned valuable lessons during the first bore in terms of the expected material they would encounter and the best mud mix to use. Good mud is key for successful drilling operations, and the project has benefitted greatly from having a specialized mud engineer on site for the first several weeks of operations.
The HDD2 crew are about to start reaming to enlarge the borehole and expect to punch out on the seafloor late next week.
HDD3, our final offshore bore, started on 9/11 and is making similar progress to HDD2. Currently they are at about 3,000 feet.
Significant progress has been made at our Utility Connection and Monitoring Facility (UCMF). The future site of the facility is graded, slopes are riprapped, and the focus has shifted to utility upgrades and road improvements. Unfortunately this work coincided with some significant rain events, which led to some muddy conditions along NW Wenger Lane. However, R&G Excavating put down gravel and rock as needed to keep the lane passable.
The new 8-inch waterline has been installed, and fire hydrants are being installed. The switch over to the new waterline should happen in a week or so.
Other utility conduits continue to be installed alongside the roadway and the road itself is getting graded and rocked. It would have been great if we could have got this done before the rains, but things have improved immensely in the last day or so. A recent addition is a safety barrier along a short section where the lane runs close to a slope.
UCMF site preparation work will continue for a few more weeks. In the next few weeks, The HDD Company will start setting up at the UCMF for the terrestrial drilling between Driftwood and the UCMF. They will be employing an intercept approach where they will drill from both ends and the bores meet in the middle. This will be discussed in more detail when that gets underway.
As always, please be cautious around the construction equipment and construction sites.
09/11/21 – Great progress has been made over the last couple of weeks at the Driftwood cable landing site. HDD4, our southern bore, is now complete and the final conduit has been installed (top row of photos and bottom left). Divers installed check valves on the seaward end of both HDD1 and HDD4 conduits on 9/8 and 9/9. Nothing more will be done with these until we construct the underground vault later in the year.
Drilling has started on HDD2 and, as of the end of the day yesterday (9/10), the crew had drilled just over 1,000 feet of the borehole (bottom middle and bottom right).
Drilling on our final bore, HDD3, is expected to commence today.
08/28/21 – HDD1 is now complete and will be left until the underground vault is installed under the Driftwood parking lot later this year (top left photo).
Divers inspected the HDD1 conduit and the HDD4 drill string out on the seafloor in about 45 feet of water (top middle).
The crews have been busy preparing to push in the conduit on HDD4, which is likely to start early next week. They have also been marking out the alignments of HDD 2 and HDD 3 and are now starting to set up the drill rig for HDD2 (top right). Drilling will likely also start next week. HDD3 drilling operations are scheduled to start the following week.
Site preparation at our Utility Connection and Monitoring Facility (UCMF) located down the highway from Driftwood is progressing well (bottom left and middle). The contractor (R&G Excavating) is currently waiting on electrical conduit before upgrading the utilities and access road to our facility.
Over the last few weeks we have had several visits from Federal, State, and local representatives including Lincoln County Commissioner Kaety Jacobson, Representative David Gomberg and Senator Jeff Merkley (bottom right). It is always a pleasure to show PacWave’s progress to those who have played critical roles in making this all happen.
08/20/21 – Just before 4am today, at the end of the second day of 24-hour operations, the conduit for our northern bore (HDD1) was finally pushed into place (left). The conductor casing that was installed early on is now being removed as it has done its job (middle and right). The next step is for commercial divers to verify the location of the seaward end and to add some additional check valves to ensure the conduit stays watertight until we are ready to install the cables. Once the divers are finished, the drill rig will start on HDD2.
Conduit installation on HDD4 is expected to start in a week or so with a similar operation to what has happened over the last few days. The crew from that rig will then start on HDD3.
08/18/21 – Due to some minor technical hitches, overnight operations are now scheduled for tonight (08/18).
08/13/21 – The extended hours of operation have been postponed as the crew have been setting up for the push in of the final conduit on HDD1. Push in will likely start today and continue over the weekend. Saturday and Sunday nights (8/14 and 8/15) could see overnight push in operations if it is necessary for the conduit to maintain forward momentum. Below is a photo of the crew setting up the tools to connect the sections of conduit together before push in, under an impressive early morning sky.
08/09/21 – Potential Extended Operations on 08/11 and 08/12 at Driftwood. On Tuesday 08/10, we will hopefully start pushing about a mile of conduit into the HDD1 bore hole. There is a risk that the conduit could become stuck if we do not maintain some forward momentum, especially when we reach the curve of the bore path up toward the seafloor. We will get a better feel for this once we start the push in operation.
If a continuous push in is required as the conduit gets further out, there will be a need for some extended hours of operations at our Driftwood drilling site. The current plan is for possible nighttime operations on Wednesday August 11 and Thursday August 12.
The pushing of the conduit will only require the use of a single drill rig and some support equipment. It will not require the use of the on-site centrifuge, mud shakers or mud pumps. As these are some of the louder pieces of equipment on site, we believe that noise generated by the push in operations should have minimal impact to our neighbors. We will be taking sound level measurements to ensure this is the case.
08/06/21 – Below is a figure showing the profile of the offshore bore plan. Our southern bore (HDD#4) has been progressing well and at the end of the day yesterday (08/05), the 12¼ inch pilot hole had reached 4,721 feet. The current plan is to continue drilling out to about 90 feet short of where the drill will reach the seafloor (known as the punch out). At that point, the drilling crew will switch to reaming, or opening up, the whole bore hole to a diameter of 16 inches in preparation for punch out.
Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon The HDD Company successfully punched out our northern bore (HDD#1, left photo) through the seafloor at a distance of over 5,200 feet from the drill rig. The punch out was verified by divers from Dead Calm Seas Marine Services using Billeter Marine’s vessel the Pacific Eagle.
The HDD#1 crew will now start removing the drill string and preparing to push in the PacWave conduit (middle and right photos) that will be left in place and through which the PacWave subsea cables will be pulled at a later date.
Pushing in almost a mile of conduit will likely take several days as the steel conduit has been treated with a special anti-corrosion coating that must not be damaged. The crews may be working longer days to ensure that the conduit goes in smoothly, especially as it gets further offshore. We will keep our neighbors informed about any such activity, although we believe that with the minimal amount of equipment needed for the conduit push in, noise should not be an issue.
07/17/21 – On Saturday July 10, we opened part of the construction site to allow people from the neighborhood an opportunity to see what lies behind the wall of shipping containers. We had approximately 75 visitors, mainly from the immediate area around Driftwood. Mathew Brock of the News Times was there and his article from the July 16 edition has some great photos.
On the drilling front, HDD#1 has been progressing well and the pilot bore is now over 3,500 feet from its entry point in the Driftwood parking lot, and is about 120 feet below the seafloor. While the pilot bore has covered about two-thirds of the total bore distance, it will need to be followed by several passes by larger “hole openers” to enlarge the bore sufficiently to allow us to install the final steel conduit. So, we still have a way to go.
Our efforts to seat the conductor casing on HDD#4 (discussed previously) appeared to have been successful and we recommenced drilling on June 30. However, on July 8, after several uneventful days of drilling, the issue began to reoccur. The drilling contractor, engineers and PacWave Team assessed the situation and concluded that the best course of action was to remove the 250-foot casing to try to determine why it was continuing to not seal well. The casing was removed over the next couple of days (left photo) and the “downhole” end was found to be damaged, perhaps from the pneumatic hammer that had been used on it.
At this point, the team decided to be cautious and abandon the upper section of the HDD#4 bore and start a new bore at a slightly steeper angle. This will allow the drilling contractor to drill down more directly to the harder rock and better embed the downhole end of the new conductor casing (right photo). This process was completed successfully yesterday, and the plan is to drill out and intercept the lower section of the old bore. This should be happening over the next week or so.
06/30/21 – The conductor casing for HDD#4 has been somewhat more difficult to install than the casing for HDD#1. As discussed in the 06/12/21 update, the conductor casing needs to run through the loose material and bed into the deeper rock layer to form a seal that can contain the drilling mud (a mixture of fine clay and water) while drilling operations are underway. Prior to drilling, almost 250 feet of conductor casing was pushed into HDD#4 and down into the rock layer. However, once drilling advanced through the end of the casing, some drilling mud released into the adjacent rock formation and some of the mud made its way to the surface and into a ditch located within heavy brush near the bottom of the slope west of the Driftwood parking lot. Visual monitoring by The HDD Company quickly identified this issue and the location of the mud, and drilling was stopped immediately. Crews then sandbagged the area as a precaution. OSU and The HDD Company personnel are working with staff from the Oregon State Parks, the Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife on a plan to remove the mud once it has dried. The released mud covers approximately an 8- by 20-foot area and is naturally contained in a low point away from environmentally sensitive areas.
A pneumatic hammer system (below left) was mobilized and used to hammer an additional 11 feet of casing down into the deeper rock of HDD#4 to achieve a better seal. This was a loud operation that took place on Monday 06/28. While loud, the operation was short-lived. The HDD Company has since restarted drilling and no further release of drilling mud has occurred. All signs indicate that the downhole end of the casing has been sealed. As a precaution, and while we had the pneumatic hammer on site, we added an additional 20 feet of casing to HDD#1.
06/24/21 — Progress continues. The conductor casing has been installed in HDD#1 (the most northerly bore) and is almost fully installed in HDD#4 (the most southerly bore). One drill rig was out of commission for a couple of days due to a problem with a computer component in the mud pump. Currently spares are not always readily available, so it took longer than normal to resolve the issue. However, everything is operational once again.
06/17/21 — The HDD Company crews have been busy over the last week finalizing the Driftwood site set up and starting to install the conductor casings in the first two bores. Conductor casings are large steel pipes that are installed along the bore path down through the upper layer of loosely consolidated, sandy material to the start of the deeper rock. The conductor casings help stabilize the borehole in this looser material and keep the drilling mud in the hole. Over 200 feet of 18-inch diameter conductor casing will be temporarily installed in each of the offshore bores.
06/09/21 — Site prep at Driftwood continues with more equipment and crew being mobilized to the construction area. The Superintendent and his crew are maneuvering all the various pieces into place and trying to make use of every inch of available space in the parking lot area. As expected, it’s a tight fit. The second drill rig has been set up and the plan is for drilling operations to start at the end of this week.
06/04/21 — The sound wall of shipping containers is complete (the photograph on the left shows the view from the beach), and the first of the two HDD drill rigs is now set up (middle picture).
We received some questions from neighbors about the loud metal pounding that was heard today. This will not be a regular occurrence. The noise happened when the large metal plate shown in the right hand picture was secured in place using the large metal stakes behind it. These are each about 8 feet long and needed to be hammered into the ground to anchor the drill rig. This will happen one more time in the coming days and will be repeated in several weeks when the drill rigs are realigned for the next bores. We apologize for the noise.
Important Reminder – The Driftwood parking lot is an active construction area. For obvious safety reasons, only authorized personnel are allowed on site. We realize people are very interested in the construction activity, but ask that you refrain from coming up the access road to the site. We are hoping to host an open house next month, where the public will be able to come on to the site, see the equipment and operations, and discuss the project with The HDD Company crew, PacWave team members and representatives from State Parks.
06/01/21 — After many years of design, planning and permitting, construction has started at Driftwood. Oregon State Parks initiated the closure of the Park early in the morning and the crew from The HDD Company started prepping the site and mobilizing shipping containers and equipment. The containers will be used to create a sound wall along the northern and western sides of the construction site.
Over the coming days, more equipment and personnel will arrive on site in preparation for the horizontal directional drilling activities, which will start later this month.
05/28/21 — NOTICE OF CLOSURE OF DRIFTWOOD BEACH STATE RECREATION SITE. The parking lot and access road at Driftwood will close at 8:00am on June 1, 2021 for the construction of the subsea cable landing for the PacWave South project. The closure will last for 8-12 months. While on-site parking will be restricted to construction vehicles only, pedestrian access to the beach will remain open, as will a nearby portable toilet outside the construction area. There are several alternative parks nearby including Governor Patterson and Seal Rock. Thank you for your patience during construction.
05/25/21 — Visitors to Driftwood may notice a number of survey flags have been placed around the parking lot. While upcoming construction activities will largely be limited to the existing paved areas of the park, the flags are to identify areas of vegetation that the construction crews need to avoid when installing fencing etc. Specifically, the flags identify areas of Kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), which is the host plant for the rare Seaside Hoary Elfin butterfly (Incisalia polia maritima).
05/10/21 — OSU and the Oregon Parks & Recreation Department (OPRD) held two Virtual Town Hall Meetings to provide updates and answer questions about the project. The presentation is available to view and download. A written summary of Questions and Answers from the May 10 Town Hall meetings is also available. Interested parties are welcome to view a recording of the presentation portion of Town Hall Meeting #1.