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World record for towing the line

Stathelle. From a sheltered fjord in Southern Norway, the world’s longest floating pipeline has crossed the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea to arrive at Cartagena in the North of Colombia. Towed by tugboat, this seven string pipe flotilla measures a total length of 4.3 kilometres.  

This unique consignment of two meter diameter HDPE pipe weights 2.100 tons. It has sailed a total of 4,500 kilometres. The flanged pipe sections will eventually be bolted together to form the sewer outfall for a new treatment plant in Cartagena. Once installed and commissioned by the regional water authority of Aguas de Cartagena, the pipeline will play an essential role in one of the most modern sewer collection and dispersal systems in Colombia.                                  

Trygve Blomster, export manager for Pipelife in Norway is delighted with the success of the project." Cartagena is not only a popular tourist destination with a rich historical past but it is also the major centre for economic activity in this Caribbean region."

Aguas de Cartagena is a privatized water company, owned 50% by the city and 50% by Aguas de Barcelona. "The Colombian company has invested considerably in public infrastructure over the last years. This new treatment plant is an example of such investment taken in this instance with the involvement of the World Bank. An important component of the sewer system will be its transmission line that will extend as far as 20 kilometres across land to our PE pipe for outfall into the Caribbean."

The outfall pipe should be in place and commissioned by the end of September this year. Manufactured on a continuous line at the firm’s Norwegian plant, it was cut into lengths of approximately 600 metres. End flanges with towing heads were mounted on each pipe length for assembly of each of the seven strings that were floated onto the Strathelle fjord.


Blomster explains that his firm has undertaken 50 long distance tows since 1995. "Our previous record was broken only last year with the delivery of just over four kilometres of large pipes to three separate project destinations in Morocco, Algeria and finally Lebanon."

However, more recent journeys involved a combined tow in May this year to Portugal and Algeria. The first section consisted of 1364 meters of 1400 mm diameter pipes bound for the ETAR Barreiro sewer outfall in Lisbon. The second part of the convoy included 1800 meters of 1600 mm diameter pipe and 380 meters of 1200 mm diameter pipes for the Fouka desalination plant in Algiers. These diameters were commissioned respectively to provide seawater intake and brine outfall.
Global economic difficulties have not detracted from the success of these kinds of projects. "Our order book is healthy and we remain reasonably optimistic despite tougher competition in the market," Blomster insists.

"We have also become tougher. In 1502, when Columbus navigated the Caribbean Sea close to the country of his namesake, it took somewhat longer than three weeks. Pipedreams are supposed to be unattainable but vision, tenacity and experience can change all that."

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