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FROM STATHELLE TO SFAX FOR SAFE DRINKING WATER
June 22, 2023
4 min read
Pipelife Norway's factory in Stathelle produces PE pipes with a seamless length of up to 620 meters, and the unique piping system is in demand not only in Norway but also around the world. For more than a year, the production lines at Stathelle have been running day and night to produce pipes that will supply drinking water to the coastal city of Sfax in Tunisia.
DESALINATION ALLOWS FIGHTING WATER SHORTAGES
In the past four years, the Mediterranean region has experienced severe summer heat waves and low rainfall during the winters. Tunisia, which historically relied on surface water bodies for its supplies, has been heavily affected by the droughts and even had to introduce water rationing this spring.
"Throughout North Africa, there is currently a huge need for safe water, and in many places, people have access to drinking water only every other day," explains Bernard Ducros, Export Project Manager at Pipelife Norway.
To alleviate the water stress, several countries in the region have recently invested in building desalination plants that can turn salty seawater into fresh water — suitable for human consumption and irrigation. One such plant will be located near Sfax, the second-largest city in Tunisia and a major port.
Pipelife Norway has been contracted to supply 12 kilometers of long-length HDPE pipes for Sfax Desalination Plant to ensure the safe supply of desalinated water to the shore. The first delivery of the pipes already took place in November 2022, with the second one scheduled for June 2023.
PIPES BORN INTO THE SEA
Pipelife Norway's factory in Stathelle produces unique long-length HDPE pipes with a maximum length of up to 620 meters and diameters ranging from 20 millimeters to 2.5 meters. The pipes are extruded directly into a fjord and towed from Stathelle to the installation site, offering significant logistical and technical advantages over other piping systems for offshore projects. Transportation and storage by sea prevent deformations of the pipes, while their long lengths reduce handling and welding costs.
SONEDE, the national water distribution utility in Tunisia and the owner of the Sfax project, has already successfully collaborated with Pipelife Norway on other water supply projects before.
"This is our third and largest project in Tunisia," comments Ducros. "Both the pipes and fittings are expertly tailor-made in our factory, but our commitment to the project does not end with the delivery. Only when the pipes have been installed, and the system is working properly will we consider our involvement completed."
The extrusion and welding works started in February 2022 and still continue. Besides pipes, a large number of specific fittings such as large tee pieces, manholes, diffusers and spool pieces will be manufactured at Pipelife Norway's workshop in Stathelle and delivered to the Sfax site during the summer of 2023.
SAFE DRINKING WATER FOR THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE
The completion of Sfax Desalination Plant is expected in the first half of 2026. The plant will cover an area of roughly 20 hectares, and its estimated output will be 100,000 cubic meters of fresh water daily.
The €300-million investment will significantly improve the quantity and quality of drinking water available to the communities living in Sfax City and Sfax Governorate, in total more than 600,000 people.