Gas To The Ozarks

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | May 2013, Vol. 68 No. 5

For homeowners and businesses that have natural gas service, this economical and dependable source of energy is taken for granted for heating, hot water supplies and often for cooking.

Yet for various reasons, many areas in the country remain without access to gas, and news that gas is coming to a well-known area is often a surprise to residents of nearby areas who are longtime gas customers.

Summit Natural Gas (SNG) is nearing completion of a project that ultimately will place 2 million feet of HDPE natural gas pipe in the ground to serve the popular Missouri Lake of the Ozarks vacation and resort area about three hours southeast of St. Louis. With a shoreline of more than 1,150 miles, the lake and surrounding areas offer boating, fishing golfing, shopping and a wide variety of lodging, restaurants, state parks and other recreational activities.

When completed, the new natural gas network will provide gas to the towns of Gravois Mills, Laurie, Sunrise Beach, Camdenton, Osage Beach and Lake Ozark.

The Summit project is the second largest construction project ever undertaken in the area -- after construction of the 54 Expressway, said Bret Brown, Summit director of Missouri business development.

New arrival

Gas has been a long time coming to the areas. The terrain, the rock, cost of construction and lack of records of existing buried utilities discouraged others from attempting to bring gas to the region, said Brown.

Planning to bring gas to the Lake of the Ozarks began in 2008 with surveying, right-of-way acquisition, designing and mapping the route of underground pipe infrastructure, hiring contractors and marketing the new service to prospective customers.

Overall, 70 percent of the new gas system will be installed by the trenchless method of horizontal directional drilling (HDD) with the remaining 30 percent open-cut.

To bring gas to the Lake of the Ozarks area, a 49-mile, six-inch diameter steel transmission line had to be constructed from Lincoln, MO, along right-of-way of a power line easement.

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“The Ozarks are extremely hilly, with steep terrain and a lot of hard rock,” Brown said. “There’s only a couple of inches of top soil and below that is solid rock.”

Construction began in July 2012. The six-inch transmission line was installed primarily by open cut construction, said Brown.