Upate on reasons for delay

Last week I asked Esso if I could meet the team on site to get a better understanding of the situation of the ongoing delays.

The delays are unacceptable and causing considerable inconvenience and distress to residents. However, to reiterate Cllr Paul Deach’s messages, Councillors have no direct influence on the Esso Pipeline project, but we can try to communicate between Esso and residents. If residents wish to make a complaint, you can do so here.

It was a frank discussion. They acknowledged that this particular section of the pipeline project is the worst in terms of delays across the whole project.

As a recap, the previous plan was that Balmoral Drive would re-open, at least with one lane of traffic, when the schools came back in September.

There have been three main factors they said have contributed to the delays:

  1. Ground water levels. This was unexpected. They drilled two two test holes at either end of Balmoral Drive in advance, that did not show the level of water they subsequently  encountered. As a result they had to use 4.5m deep sheets either side of the trench to keep it stable (instead of 2m deep as planned), and also spend more time than anticipated pumping water out before key activities like welding can take place. This is NOT surface water so could not be mitigated by covering the trenches with tarpaulins.
  2. A crack has appeared in the middle of the road. This created a risk of road collapse into the pipeline trench if vehicles were allowed to travel on the other side. Surrey County Council (SCC) have quite rightly instructed them to repair it; they will need to use radar to check for voids and then repair as required.
  3. Culvert under Balmoral Drive. There is a culvert carrying a waterway under Balmoral Drive. This was not on the plans and they will need to adopt a non-standard pipeline solution under the culvert pipe.

I also challenged them on workforce, pointing out that people are not working on the project every day, and do they have workforce issues? Esso responded that “we have a standard sized crew working on Balmoral Drive and don’t have any workforce issues at this location”. I appreciate that residents might find that hard to accept.

I had previously posted my reticence to post dates provided by Esso as the evidence is they cannot be trusted; but with that caveat they are predicting:

  • By Xmas: Balmoral Drive from Frimley Green Road to first Sandringham roundabout open (next stage of closure between Sandringham Way roundabouts).
  • End March: Balmoral Drive works complete

Stuart Black, 4 November 2022.