From the Black Sea to Antarctica: Pipelife Bulgaria Supplies Waterlines for a Polar Research Base

21. December 2023 | 5 min read

Antarctica is the fifth-largest continent on our planet, covering one-tenth of the Earth's land area. As the continent's territory is almost completely coated in ice, ensuring a potable water supply for polar research stations requires highly reliable infrastructure. Pipelife Bulgaria's team was honored to donate a PE 100-RC pipe system to the country's Antarctic base on Livingston Island. 

Antarctic researcher views

Strong Historical Presence on Remote Continent

Antarctica's territory is collectively governed by a group of countries under the Antarctic Treaty. Bulgaria, one of the Treaty's 56 parties, funded its exploration base, St. Kliment Ohridski Station, in 1988. Since then, the base has served for geological, biological, glaciological, meteorological, topographical and geographical studies, as well as research in the field of medicine.

The St. Kliment Ohridski seasonal base is situated on the Herd Peninsula, 130 meters from Emona Anchorage, used for delivering the necessary equipment and supplies to the station. The main water source in the region is the Rezov Stream, which flows during the summer period.

Overcoming Challenges in Extreme Environments

In June 2022, Assoc. Prof. D. Eng. Boris Tsankov, Deputy Rector at the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy, contacted Pipelife Bulgaria regarding the need to reconstruct the water supply lines of St. Kliment Ohridski Station. 

"With fellow logisticians, we had explored the nearby water sources and drawn conclusions on how to improve water supply to the base," he explains. "Previously, we relied on a hose, which was extended when the first group of polar explorers arrived and retracted when the base was preserved for the next research season. However, this system relied on metal connectors, which quickly froze when the temperatures dropped. In such cases, the water supply stopped, and the research team had to rely on a refillable water reservoir, which created discomfort." 

Pipelife Bulgaria's team immediately responded to the request by donating 150 meters of PE 100-RC DN63 pipes. The pipes were transported to the Antarctic base with the research ship "Saints Cyril and Methodius." The shipment also signified the inaugural occasion when a Bulgarian research vessel departed from the Black Sea. Before, Bulgaria's Antarctic team had depended on research ships from other nations to reach the base.

The installation of the pipes was carried out by Assoc. Prof. Tsankov and his team
The installation of the pipes in Antarctic base

Piping System Made for Demanding Conditions

The installation of the pipes was carried out by Assoc. Prof. Tsankov and his team, with support and guidance provided by Pipelife Bulgaria's Infrastructure Product Management team. The works took place this year from February to March to ensure the water supply system was fully operational for the summer research season.

"The challenge laid not in the hydraulics, but in the terrain, which mainly consists of crushed stone," Assoc. Prof. Tsankov recalls. "The pipes were fastened with metal studs and clamps 10-15 centimeters above the ground level and had to be positioned so that acute angles and reverse slopes do not form. Calculations on how to lay pipes optimally were done on-site."

In the harsh Antarctic environment, PE 100-RC pipes proved to be an optimal solution, offering an exceptionally long service life and high resistance to temperature extremes, point loads and cracks. While boasting outstanding mechanical properties, PE 100-RC pipes are also lightweight and flexible, facilitating and expediting installation.

The installation of the pipes was carried out by Assoc. Prof. Tsankov and his team
The installation of the pipes

Reliable Infrastructure Supports Future Explorations

The remodeled water supply system is now ready for the next research season, expected to start in December and continue until February or March. The 32nd Bulgarian polar mission has already embarked on the journey to Livingston Island.

Both sides, Pipelife Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Antarctic Institute foresee future joint projects, strengthening their successful cooperation further and improving the infrastructure on the territory of St. Kliment Ohridski Station.

Get in Touch

Please choose your preferred way to get in contact with us. We will get back to you as soon as possible.



Frequently Downloaded

Find here the most popular downloads

Download Center
Did you not find what you are looking for?

Find a country near you

Get in Touch with our Team

Please choose which way you want to get in contact with us. We will contact you as soon as possible.


Call back service
We will get in touch with you by phone
E-Mail service
We will get in touch with you by e-mail