Michels Canada Completes Canada’s Longest HDD Installation

Michels Canada completes a 11,600-plus-foot horizontal directional drilling job under a golf club.

Michels Canada Completes Canada’s Longest HDD Installation

Pipeline being installed by horizontal directional drill rigs is held up by four large cranes as it is being fed into the ground during Imperial’s Waterdown to Finch Project in Burlington, Ontario. The directional drilling project is being completed by Michels Canada.

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Michels Canada extended the limits of trenchless construction in Canada by completing what is now the longest successful horizontal directional drill installation in Canada to date.

The company completed a 11,614-foot (3,540-meter) crossing by horizontal directional drilling in Burlington, Ontario, under the Hidden Lake Golf Club. The installation is part of Imperial’s Waterdown to Finch Project, a proactive replacement of approximately 39 miles (63 kilometers) of the Sarnia Products Pipeline between the Waterdown pump station in rural Hamilton and the storage facility in Toronto’s North York area.

The previous record was of 7,201 feet (2,195 meters), also set by Michels Canada. 

For the Waterdown to Finch Project, a 12-inch steel pipe was installed to a maximum depth of 229 feet below the surface and pulled into place in three sections over a 40-hour period. The crossing spans along a right-of-way that passes under the Hidden Lake Golf Club and a wetland in the environmentally sensitive Southern Ontario region.

“The completion of record-length trenchless projects like this one demonstrate our capabilities for safe, environmentally sound ways of constructing new or replacing existing utility lines,” says Gary Ziehr, vice president, energy, Michels Canada. “When HDD and other trenchless methods are used to complement traditional opencut utility construction methods, we are able to support our clients in safely delivering needed energy supplies to their customers.” 


Due to the length of the crossing, Michels Canada deployed a rig on each end of the alignment.

Operators used the rigs to drill toward one other and then used gyroscopic survey and steering technology to complete the intersection of the two bore holes. The alignment follows the right-of-way of the original Sarnia pipeline, so the Michels Canada team had to carefully navigate the five horizontal curves along the alignment.

The crew successfully contended with other challenges, including:

-Geotechnical formation variables from hard rock to soft, which required multiple tooling designs.

-A pilot hole intersection within a karst formation, requiring significant contingency planning, monitoring and additional resources.

-Being located in mixed urban and agricultural areas with significant local traffic, including both recreational and agricultural operations on the roadways.


Michels experience at completing large HDD jobs allowed the company to train and work safely with local union employees and Indigenous peoples, including those with limited prior HDD experience.

The Michels team also worked closely with the project’s prime contractor, Somerville Aecon Joint Venture, which provided a team with safety as a top priority. 

Operating safely in the region for many years, Imperial’s Sarnia Products Pipeline provides fuel products used by households and businesses across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

The Waterdown to Finch Project is a proactive measure to ensure continued safe and reliable fuels supply, including a significant portion of jet fuel for Toronto Pearson International Airport. τ


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