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Pipes Ahoy! Largest Pipe Flotilla ever

Stathelle. The largest flotilla ever of plastic pipes has been towed from a sheltered fjord in Southern Norway to three destinations - many thousands of kilometres away.

Over four kilometres of large diameter polyethylene (HDPE) pipes were towed by tugboat on a Middle East cruise that included major project destinations in Morocco, Algeria and finally Lebanon.

Made on a continuous basis at the firm’s plant, the pipes were floated directly onto the narrow fjord of Stathelle. End flange connections with towing heads were connected before this unique convoy set sail.

First port of call was Mohammedia where the company had been asked by the French company of Geocean to supply three lengths of sea outfall pipes each 455 metres long. The pipes will provide an underwater sewer discharge for a new treatment plant for the Moroccan capital Rabat. Concrete ballast weights will anchor these large diameter (2000 mm) pipes at 14 metres deep upon the seabed and almost 1.5 km away from the coastline.

Once installed, they will collect and disperse plant outfall delivered from wide tunnels now being bored through solid cliff rock. In this way, the residents of historic Rabat and of surrounding districts will have the most modern water treatment facilities. Furthermore, bathing water quality at nearby beach resorts will be significantly improved.

Second stop on this unusual itinerary was Arzew in Algeria to deliver two parallel PE intakes for a new ammonium plant. Each 1,100 mm diameter pipe was 650 metres long and ordered by Orascom Construction Industries, Egypt. Instead of using expensive and unsightly cooling towers, the Algerian plant will rely on a continuous flow of seawater to cool its heat exchangers. Regional industry and community will benefit considerably from the power generated with the aid of this economical cooling cycle.

Final destination was the ancient port of Tripoli. The city and port is Lebanon’s economic hub and the S/S Pipelife delivered pipe lengths that total 1473 metres.
These 1600 mm diameter sea outfall pipes were delivered in three sections. They were ordered by the Lebanese firm of BUTEC that is constructing a coastal water treatment plant for the city.

Previous sales record broken

Trygve Blomster, export manager for Pipelife in Norway explains that his company has been making these large 1,600 mm diameter HDPE pipes since 1973. In 2004, a decision was made to produce 2,000 mm versions that can also be floated to their eventual home port. “Demand for these pipes has become considerable. Last year we booked our largest sales ever for these pipes. This year, we have already broken that record.”

“One interesting project recently delivered was for a parallel seawater intake for a desalination plant in Barcelona. In 2007 we supplied water pipes to the largest land-based fish farm in the world in Mira, Portugal. That project was for the Spanish fish farm group of Pescanova. Now, Pipelife has been approached by UTE Dessaladora Barcelona, a Spanish consortium that is constructing the desalination plant in Barcelona on the Mediterranean coast. They have ordered 4,320 metres of PE100 in 1,800 mm diameter pipe for seawater intake. The Spanish plant will go a long way to providing water for agriculture and communities in a region that has suffered from serious water scarcity.”

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