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World’s longest freight transport through the Suez Canal

Oct 25, 2020 | 5 min read

 

Pipelife Norway is about to finalize their biggest single delivery ever: 6,722 meters of large diameter plastic PE Pipes are hauled 16,300 kilometers to Bangladesh. Their arrival is expected on October 30th 2020. The convoy is over one kilometer long and is the longest freight transport ever to go through the Suez Canal.

 

In March 2020, Pipelife Norway signed one of their biggest export contracts when they agreed to deliver an offshore water-cooling system to a power plant project in the South East part of Bangladesh. Throughout spring and summer, the workers in the factory in Stathelle worked day and night to produce the 12 enormous pipes with a diameter of 7.5 feet (2.3 meters), as well as several bends and inspection chambers.

The longest in history

The transportation of the pipes started on August 19, with the delivery of six pipes of each 620 meters and a further 6 pipes of 500 meters. The width of the delivery 30 meters, and including the tugboat and the wires, it spans over one kilometer. The convoy has attracted much attention with its impressive length as it is towed through the 193-kilometer-long and occasionally relatively narrow Suez Canal. Pipelife’s pipe tow is the longest convoy in history to go through the canal since it opened in 1869.

The pipe tow reached Port Said on September 18 and reached Suez by the Red Sea on September 20.“ The Suez passage was successful and without any delays. We would like to thank the Suez Canal Authorities (SCA) and their agents for excellent cooperation, both in the planning stage prior to and under transportation though the canal. It will probably not be the last Pipelife tow through the Suez Canal”, says Trygve Blomster, Pipelife Norway’s Export Manager.

The pipes have passed the Gulf of Aden and are on their way through the Indian Ocean to their next fuel stop in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Estimated arrival will be October 18, 2020. Estimated arrival to their final destination in Bangladesh is the first week of November, depending on the weather.

A New Milestone

“We have performed more than 150 international tows since 1995. We started in the 1960s with towing pipes in Scandinavia. England, South Africa, and North Africa were next. In 1998, we crossed the Atlantic Ocean and made it to Brazil. In 2019, Pipelife set the world record with a pipe tow of 27,720 kilometers to Malaysia. The voyage back then went around Africa. We considered pursuing the same route for the tow that is now headed for Bangladesh, but we chose the Suez Canal as it shortens the voyage 6,000 kilometers and the convoy will reach its destination a month earlier”, Blomster says.

Breakthrough in a new market.

“The value of having transported a giant tow through the Suez Canal means a lot to us. This will make us a more valuable pipe supplier in the Middle East, Asia and India. The region has many big projects within water supply, desalination, and water-cooling pipes in power plants. Our solutions are great alternatives in this industry. We have opened up the possibility for Norwegian pipe export with our tows around Africa to Malaysia and now through the Suez Canal to Bangladesh. We are already working on several big projects in the Middle East, India, Bangladesh and the South East of Asia, and we hope to sign a new big contract in the coming year”, says Trygve Blomster.

Climate-friendly project

The Norwegian supplier is also a winner when it comes to operating climate friendly. The pipes float and require minimal engine power. It enables a towboat to transport many pipes in one tow. To compare, the pipe delivery to Bangladesh would have needed 374 full trailers with 18-meter-long pipes. At the factory in Stathelle, the pipes are extruded directly into a fjord without any further handling. The long pipes save a lot of handling and welding upon arrival as well.

World's longest freight transport through the Suez Canal

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Facts about the tow

  • Total length of the pipes: 6,722 meters
  • Number of pipes: 6 x 620 meters and 6 x 500 meters
  • Diameter of pipes: 2.3 meters
  • Material: polyethylene Weight: 3,850 tons
  • The tows total length: Over 1,000 meters
  • Distance: 16,300 kilometers
  • Departure: Stathelle, September 19th 2020

Facts about the Suez Canal:

 

The Suez Canal is a 193-kilometer-long canal in Egypt that connects the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. The canal was opened on November 17, 1869 as an alternative to the Silk Road and the much longer shipping route around the coast of Africa and Cape of Good Hope. Since then, it has been a central trading route between Asia and Europe. The canal was refurbished in 2015 and is now used by more than 20,000 ships on a yearly basis.

 

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