It can be difficult for pipeline project owners to determine which delivery method is best suited for specific project needs. One approach to consider is engineer-procure-construct (EPC) project delivery.

EPC utilizes one entity — a design-build team — and works under a single contract with you, the owner, to provide design and construction services. This means there is one entity, one contract and one unified flow of work from initial concept through completion. In this delivery method, the EPC contractor handles all the interfaces between engineering teams, equipment and material vendors, and construction teams.

While some clients may perceive EPC as costly, its advantages can mitigate or outweigh those concerns. The first advantage is better use of limited owner resources. This means leveraging the EPC contractor’s depth of knowledge and resources in engineering, procurement, construction and construction management, project management, safety, and quality control.

With a single point of responsibility, you can benefit from the EPC contractor’s management and coordination of multiple equipment providers, material suppliers, consultants and contractors. This reduces the amount of your owner resources necessary to manage projects.

With several EPC options available, a partnered planning approach to EPC allows for a portion of the design to occur before seeking bids for materials and construction. This allows the owner to participate in the project definition — to reduce risk transfer as well as benefit from a competitive bidding process.

Another advantage of choosing EPC as your pipeline project delivery method can be an expedited schedule. With EPC, many project tasks can take place with overlapping timelines. For example, engineering activities can be completed such as to allow construction to begin sooner; in a more traditional design-bid-build approach, construction cannot begin until detailed design is complete.

Specifically, in design-bid-build, a time-consuming bid process typically occurs only after detailed design is complete. With EPC, the bidding process for equipment, materials and construction can occur earlier in the design phase and conclude before detailed design is complete. Additionally, this EPC process enables an established price — and corresponding certainty to the owner — much earlier in the process.

But these benefits only scratch the surface. Among additional reasons to opt for EPC:

  • Improved constructability
  • Reduced exposure to cost overruns and change orders
  • Established supplier prequalification process
  • Accommodation for many different owner risk profiles
  • Clear definition of risks
  • Improved communication

It’s important to consider all delivery methods before deciding which one is right for you. Each project and project owner will have different requirements and needs, and understanding the nuances is a critical first step. EPC project delivery offers solutions to many problems that oil and gas pipeline owners face. It’s worth considering for your next project.

As director of pipeline services for Burns & McDonnell, Dana Book specializes in pipeline projects within the oil and gas industry. In this role, he focuses on routing, design, procurement, construction services, permitting and land acquisition.