Laying Pipelines



seam not least condition
weld day off stretches
pour join (2) acquainted
muddy terrain tradesman
toil down to challenge (2)
fuse progress lose heart
bar (3) conduit do as they please
tough foreman terrific (2)
site scale (3) conductor
dirt segment rise to meet the challenge
anti- cramped inspiration
lay extreme insulation
rust swamp pass muster
throw ground precisely
dirt slip (2) withstand
flow weight supposed to





The seam looks fine; the welding tents can be moved forward again. The current section is almost finished.

Another week perhaps, and then the workers can enjoy a few days off. They’ve made faster progress than expected, thanks not least to their foreman.

He’s the first to arrive in the morning, and the last to leave. Horst Dagefoerde has built pipelines all around the world. And at 69, he still enjoys joining these enormous pipe segments into endless conduits.

Horst Dagefoerde, PPS Pipeline Systems Foreman: “The terrain here is a huge challenge. We have to work in any and all conditions, whether it’s pouring rain and then muddy; or snowing in winter. We’ve always worked through any weather.

And that toughens you up.”

They’ve been toiling here for a year already. Anyone who loses heart now, just has to look to the boss for inspiration.

Horst Dagefoerde, PPS Pipeline Systems Foreman: “A foreman has to do everything the others do, and he has to be able to do it better, because otherwise people will do as they please.”

Some twenty-five hundred men are working on this pipeline. Most are skilled tradesmen, such as the welders who fuse the pipe segments together.

When the pipeline is completed next year, most will have to start searching for a new job.

A few kilometers further, the finished stretches of pipeline are being put into place. This one consists of twenty-seven segments, and weighs almost five-hundred tons.

Regardless of the terrific weight, the pipe layers have to work precisely, down to the last millimeter.

If all the machinery on this construction site were an orchestra, the foreman would be the conductor. Peter Endorf has vast international experience, but it took time to get used to the scale.

Peter Indorf, PPS Pipeline Systems Foreman: “In the beginning, we needed six or seven hours to lay a kilometer of pipe; now we can do it in three or four— and then it’s history.

The whole team rises to meet the challenge.”

Luckily for the foreman, some of his crew members are from the former East Germany, and they were already acquainted with giant pipelines.

As young men, they went to Siberia to build pipelines as part of a youth program — these guys are no strangers to extreme conditions.

Even so, last winter in northeast Germany was tough for them.

Lutz Mahler, PPS Pipeline Systems Pipe Layer: “Your knees get still up there. You start to get cold and try to keep moving somehow. But you’re in a cramped space after all.

While the pipe is being laid, you have to stay up there and wait. And you think, ‘Please God. Let it be over soon’.”

The next section of pipe awaits.

The anti-rust insulation passes muster. Piece by piece, these men have been moving forward since September 2009.

The toughest part so far was a swampy region where their machinery kept slipping. But they met that challenge too.

Peter Indorf, PPS Pipeline Systems Forman: “Every pipe goes into the ground, and each one gets dirt thrown over it.”

And then the pipes are welded manually.

These are real specialists at work, because the seams have to withstand serious pressure: when the gas from Russia starts flowing through here, it will do so at one-hundred bar.

In the fall of 2011, it’s all supposed to be completed. And more than half the pipeline is finished already.

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1. The pipeline employees’ work schedule is nine to five, Monday through Friday. True or false?

2. Leadership and management are the most important aspect of pipe laying. Is this right or wrong?

3. Have the foremen only worked on projects in Germany?

4. Are the pipeline workers skilled or unskilled? What sort of specialties or skills do they have or do?

5. Basically, how do they lay the pipes? Do they have to be accurate?

6. Is the working environment easy or difficult?

7. The eastern Germans are hardy workers. Is this correct or incorrect? Why are they tough? Are they permanent employees of the company?


A. I have worked on an oil or gas pipeline. Yes or no? Do you know anyone who has?

B. My country extracts petroleum and gas. True or false? Does your country import, export, transport oil and gas or all of the above?

C. Is petroleum and gas a very important industry?

D. It provides a lot of good jobs.

E. What will happen in the future?


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