Upgrading a Natural Gas Utility Operator's Outdated Infrastructure

Person inspecting Oil and Gas Infrastructure while review notes on a tablet

Evaluating design, supply, installation, and commissioning activities in an international dispute

When a natural gas utility operator initiated arbitral proceedings against a contractor hired to upgrade its vast, aging infrastructure, disagreements arose regarding the project's execution, costs, and alleged delays. Exponent was asked to provide an arbitral tribunal with an independent expert assessment of certain design, supply, installation, and commissioning activities.

The Challenge

The utility operator contracted a third-party entity to complete key, sequenced tasks related to:

  • Corrosion control, including upgrading the cathodic protection system (CPS) for more than 1,000 miles of buried pipeline
  • Communication capabilities, including designing and implementing a new, enterprise-wide supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system
  • Power transmission, including modifications to the operator's power transmission line (PTL) network to achieve higher service reliability.

After work commenced and was well underway, the operator — alleging defects and delays on the part of the contractor — sought to terminate the contract before the completion of the work.

A dispute ensued around purported deficiencies and contract interpretation issues, with a focus on whether the contractor received sufficient information and data to complete the work.

Exponent's multidisciplinary Solution

Combining expertise in materials and corrosion engineering, electrical engineering and computer science, and quantum analysis, Exponent's multidisciplinary team assessed information and data made available to the contractor and evaluated impacts on project expenditures.

Exponent's Impact

Exponent's interdisciplinary expert team brought a unique breadth and depth of technical and quantum expertise while providing exceptional value to our client. We assisted the arbitral tribunal in understanding the complexities involved in upgrading specific aspects of a natural gas utility network, facilitating their task of adjudicating submissions from both parties, and rendering an outcome that remained unchallenged at the conclusion of the proceedings.