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Cofferdam Use in Utility and Oil and Gas Construction Projects

Utilities and oil and gas construction projects may require extensive excavation. Digging out and drilling in the ground during construction often poses a risk to underground infrastructure such as pipelines, cables, and other utility systems. To avoid damage and ensure worker safety and project completion, cofferdams are used as a temporary water-tight barrier or structure around excavation sites to allow the construction process to occur safely. In this blog post, we will discuss the usage and the benefit of cofferdams in protecting underground infrastructure in utility and oil and gas construction projects.

1. What is a cofferdam?

A cofferdam is a temporary structure or barrier erected in an excavation to prevent water from entering the site. They also act as a barrier to keep the water at bay and create a dry working environment. It is hugely important in construction projects that need dry ground for excavation and foundation work. Cofferdams are commonly used in utility and oil & gas construction projects where working under or near water is a significant hazard. The use of cofferdams helps prevent the flow of water into the excavation and allows for dry worksite conditions.

Cofferdams come in different types and sizes depending on the project’s size, location, and water depth. Depending on the project’s requirements, cofferdams can be designed to be removable, permanent, or mobile. One of the biggest benefits of using cofferdams in utility and oil & gas construction projects is that it helps reduce construction costs. Cofferdams eliminate the need for dewatering systems by keeping the water out of the work site.

Another advantage of using cofferdams in utility and oil & gas construction projects is the increased level of safety they provide for workers. Being able to work in a dry work environment is much less hazardous than working with large volumes of water nearby. Moreover, cofferdams can act as a barrier to protect the worksite from external elements and prevent waterborne debris from entering the worksite. This is particularly important in areas prone to heavy rainfall or having a high moisture content in the soil.

Cofferdams are also environmentally friendly compared to other forms of construction techniques. By keeping the water out of the excavation, cofferdams help protect the surrounding water bodies from sedimentation, soil contamination, and nutrient depletion. They also reduce erosion and protect aquatic life and ecosystems.






2. Types of Cofferdams

Types of cofferdams that are most commonly used in construction projects include:

– Sheet piling cofferdams– Earthen cofferdams
– Water filled cofferdams

Sheet piles are most commonly used due to their ability to hold deeper waters but can take weeks to install. Sheet piling typically averages to 35LF installed per day. Earthen berms provide the convenience of using soil from the jobsite but tend to be unstable and unreliable in keeping the surrounding water from entering your jobsite. Water filled cofferdams, such as the Aqua-Barrier, allow you to use the water from the very same jobsite to inflate. The Aqua-Barriers are engineered certified and designed to be extremely user friendly thus saving you in time and labor costs when comparing to the alternative damming methods. Check out our comparison document for more information.

3. The Benefits of Cofferdam Usage

Cofferdams have become an integral part of construction plans, especially those close to water bodies. Again, here are some of their benefits:

– Provide safer workspaces for workers who carry out construction near water bodies.
– Reduces the impact of environmental damage from construction activities in the water bodies.
– Facilitates quicker completion of projects, saving costs and labor.
– Helps in the effective maintenance of underwater structures.
– Enables the clear inspection of structures and equipment in the water.

Uses in Utility and Oil & Gas projects

Utility Construction Projects:
Utility construction projects often require the installation of underground water pipes, gas lines, and other utility lines. These construction projects require trenching work, which means the excavation of trenches in an area where the water table is high, or the soil is unstable, or both. In such situations, a cofferdam can be used to create a dry working area, which not only speeds up the work but also ensures the safety of workers.

Oil and Gas Construction Projects:
In oil and gas construction projects, cofferdams are used to enable offshore platform construction and maintenance works. Offshore platforms are built on top of the sea, and thus need continuous maintenance from time to time to maintain their structural integrity. These maintenance works require a dry working area underwater, which can be achieved using cofferdams.


Cofferdams are an essential component in utility and oil and gas construction projects. Their usage is critical in protecting underground infrastructure from water ingress and ensuring worker safety by maintaining a dry working area in water bodies and are widely used in many industries. Implementing cofferdam usage in construction projects can lead to greater efficiency, ultimately resulting in high-quality project completion. Proper installation and maintenance of these structures are necessary, and proper safety measures should be taken while working in and around them. Hence, cofferdams should be considered and included in the planning and design stages of construction projects that involve excavation and foundation works.

Completing successful utility and oil & gas construction projects requires safe, dry worksites no matter the surrounding conditions. This is why, for the past 26 years, we’ve been the number 1 provider of temporary flood protection, damming, and dewatering solutions for multiple applications worldwide. Our cofferdams are offered in a wide selection of working heights and lengths to provide you with the highest level of protection available. This fact is just one of the reasons we’re trusted across the world to ensure worksites stay dry and protected so project deadlines can be met. Want to learn more? Contact us at any time, or come see us in person at our world headquarters in Waller, Texas!

Please give us a call at 936-372-1222 or toll-free at 800-245-0199 to get started.

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