Newport has provided the location for gas emergency and pipeline service, Wales & West Utilities, to use innovative directional drilling to minimise the impact of their work on road users and the local community.

The directional drilling work is to make sure the gas network in the area can supply the 4,000 planned new homes being built as part of Glan Llyn - the £1bn regeneration project of the old Llanwern Steel site. It involved laying new gas pipes beneath the Eastern Distributor Road and Queens Way Meadow, Newport and was finished in just three days, instead of the two weeks it would have taken using traditional methods.

And using directional drilling meant that no traffic management or road closure was needed while the work was done. 

Andrew Gwilym, Wales & West Utilities Area Engineering Manager for Wales explains: 

“Directional drilling is not a new technology but you need the right area to do it successfully. Our work in Newport was a great opportunity to use this innovative method and meant we could minimise the impact of our work on road users and the local community.

“This way of working meant we could keep the busy road open at all times. If we had used traditional excavation methods, we would have needed a traffic management plan and lanes of the Eastern Distributor Road would have been closed. As you can imagine this would have had a major impact on local road users and the local community. Directional drilling means we have been able to avoid this while finishing the work safely, quickly and efficiently.”  

Directional drilling is a steerable trenchless method of installing underground pipe by using a surface-launched drilling rig.

Andrew added:

“We are delighted that this scheme allowed us to use the directional drilling technology for the benefit for local road users and the local community. We know our work can be disruptive, and we’re always working hard to minimise its impact.”

St. Modwen, the UK’s leading regeneration specialist, has been transforming disused industrial and brownfield sites into sustainable communities for over 25 years. The Glan Llyn community is the latest in a wider portfolio of large-scale regeneration projects underway in South Wales. Within the first phase of residential development, Persimmon, Charles Church and St. Modwen are already delivering almost 400 new homes.

Wales & West Utilities, the gas emergency and pipeline service, takes pride in serving Wales and the south west of England. If anyone smells gas, thinks they have a gas leak, or suspects carbon monoxide poisoning, they should call us on 0800 111 999 and our engineers will be there to help, day or night. 

The company also has a multi-million pound, 30-year gas pipe investment programme which began in 2002. Old metal pipes within 30 metres of buildings are being replaced with new long-lasting plastic pipes with a lifespan of more than 80 years, to make sure homes and businesses continue to receive a safe and reliable gas supply now and in the future.